Facebook are Withholding ‘Crucial’ evidence about Myanmar Genocide

The company maintains that its data won't be released to law enforcement even in the case of genocide

According to the United Nations, social media giant Facebook is withholding evidence about human rights atrocities in Myanmar, particularly about “serious international crimes” which took place in the genocide of the Rohingya Muslim minority in 2017.

Facebook was a huge influence on the genocide, which the UN called “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing”, due to hate speech and propaganda on the platform and, in a 2018 report, admitted that it had not done enough “to foment division and incite offline violence”.

Myanmar is facing charges of genocide at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) over the genocide – which it denies – that say “more than 30,000 people thrown into fires” and “almost 20,000 people brutally raped and hundreds of villages torched,” according to the Byline Times. 

Head of the Independent Investigative Mechanism on Myanmar (IIMM), Nicholas Koumjian, told Reuters that Facebook was holding evidence that is, “highly relevant and probative of serious international crimes” and had failed to share any over the year-long talks. 

Since the atrocities that were seen to have been incited on Facebook (which is used by 40% of people in Myanmar), the tech giant had vowed to crack down on hate speech and fake news faster than before, making it a priority.

Facebook also refused a request for data made by the Gambia, which has filed a lawsuit against Myanmar with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague, formally accusing the country of genocide.

Speaking to Reuters, Matthew Smith, founder and chief executive officer of Fortify Rights said Facebook was maintaining, “that even in an instance of genocide, their communications and data are secure and won’t be shared with prosecutors or law enforcement”.

According to Tun Khin, president of the Burmese Rohingya Organisation U.K, “the evidence Facebook sits on could be crucial,” and, with so much at stake, Facebook should use this moment to write its wrongs that lead to the devastating humanitarian disaster in the first place.

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