Meta Platforms, formerly known as Facebook, said on Wednesday (Dec 8) it would ban all Myanmar-military controlled businesses from having a presence on its platforms in an expansion of its earlier curbs on the country's security forces.
The United States tech giant had already announced in February it would stop all entities linked to the military, known as the Tatmadaw, from advertising on its platforms.
"This action is based on extensive documentation by the international community and civil society of these businesses' direct role in funding the Tatmadaw," said Mr Rafael Frankel, Meta's Pacific director of public policy for emerging countries in the Asia-Pacific.
Myanmar’s military overthrew Aung San Suu Kyi’s democratically elected government in a coup in February, prompting widespread protests. A spokesman for the military junta, which itself banned Facebook in February, did not answer calls seeking comment.
Frankel said Meta was identifying the companies based on a 2019 report from a UN Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, research from activist groups Justice for Myanmar and Burma Campaign UK, as well consultations with civil society. He told Reuters it had already taken down over 100 accounts, pages, and groups linked to military-controlled businesses.
He told Reuters it had already taken down more than 100 accounts, pages and groups linked to military-controlled businesses.
Facebook plays an outsized role in Myanmar as the dominant Internet channel and remains widely used by both protesters against military rule and soldiers.
After coming under heavy international criticism for failing to contain online hate campaigns, Facebook has pushed back against the military and since the coup introduced measures to protect Myanmar users.
The platform is also facing a US$150 billion (S$205 billion) lawsuit from Rohingya refugees over allegations it did not take action against hate speech targeted at the Muslim Rohingya minority that contributed to violence.
In 2018, UN human rights investigators said Facebook allowed the platform to be used by radical Buddhist nationalists and military members to fan a campaign of violence towards the Rohingya, 700,000 of whom fled an army crackdown in 2017.
Mr Frankel declined to comment on the lawsuit, but said: "We're appalled by the crimes committed against the Rohingya people in Myanmar. We've built a dedicated team of Burmese speakers, banned the Tatmadaw, disrupted networks manipulating public debate and taken action on harmful misinformation to help keep people safe."
Facebook is being sued for more than £200billion over claims it fuelled the genocide of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.
In a landmark case, lawyers have launched legal action on both sides of the Atlantic seeking 'reparation-style' compensation from the Silicon Valley tech firm on behalf of victims and survivors.
Those behind the case said that Facebook had 'fanned the flames of hatred' by repeatedly ignoring warnings that the platform was being used to share hate speech in the country.
The transatlantic coalition of lawyers, who are working with a number of charities, said that the legal action was needed to stop the company from 'running the world with impunity'.
It is thought to be one of the largest ever group claims launched against a private company through the courts.
Estimates say as many as 25,000 Rohingya, described as 'the most discriminated people in the world', were killed and more than 800,000 forced to flee to Bangladesh after violence erupted in 2017.
The attacks were launched by the predominantly Buddhist country's military alongside local death squads in reaction to low-level attacks by Rohingya militants on more than 30 police posts.
The UN said that forces had unleashed 'frenzied blood-letting and mass rape' in the Rakhine province in the west of the country, including the routine abduction of women and girls.
Despite the UN describing the military response as a 'textbook example of ethnic cleansing', campaigners said that Facebook failed to stop anti-Rohingya propaganda.
Facebook has admitted it was 'too slow to prevent misinformation and hate' in Myanmar and has said it has since taken steps to crack down on platform abuses in the region, including banning the military from Facebook and Instagram after the February 1 coup.
In a letter of notice to Facebook's UK arm, lawyers notified the company of the intended action in the High court, asking it to preserve any relevant documents for evidence.
The formal claim for negligence and breaching a duty of care, due to be filed later this month, will say that Facebook 'used algorithms that amplified hate speech' and failed to invest in local moderators.
It will also accuse the company of failing to remove posts and accounts that incited violence.
Jason McCue, a senior partner at McCue Jury & Partners LLP which is leading the claim, said the case was an attempt to 'stop this juggernaut of a company that is out of control'.
He added: 'Whilst on duty, it allowed toxic hatred and ethnic cleansing to be deployed at will by the Myanmar regime and its supporters within its extremist hate speech chat forums.'
In a co-ordinated approach, a claim was also filed at the Northern District Court of California in San Francisco on behalf of Rohingya refugees based in the US.
The American claim accused Facebook of being 'willing to trade the lives of the Rohingya people for better market penetration in a small country'.
The document added: 'It has had blinders on to any real calculation of the benefits to itself compared to the negative impacts it has on anyone else.
'Facebook is like a robot programed with a singular mission: to grow.
'And the undeniable reality is that Facebook's growth, fueled by hate, division, and misinformation, has left hundreds of thousands of devastated Rohingya lives in its wake.'
Tun Khin, president of the Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK, said: 'This powerful global company must be held to account for its role in permitting the spread of hateful anti-Rohingya propaganda which directly led to unspeakable violence.'
A lot more at https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10282349/Facebook-sued-200billion-claims-fuelled-genocide-Rohingya-Muslims.html
Activists throw red paint in the streets to remember those killed in protests as
military charges 19 doctors for opposing its power grab.
Activists in Myanmar have splashed red paint and dye on roads and buildings to represent the blood of the hundreds of people who were killed while protesting against the military’s February 1 power grab.
The display on Wednesday, the second day of the traditional New Year holiday, came as a military-run newspaper reported that at least 19 doctors were charged with incitement for participating in the civil disobedience protests.
Myanmar has been in chaos since the coup, with daily protests and various campaigns of defiance, including strikes by workers in many sectors. Activists have cancelled the usual festivities over the five-day New Year festival, announcing different shows of defiance on each day.
On Wednesday, people in various towns and cities across the country joined what activists termed “a bloody paint strike”.
In the main city of Yangon, protesters spray-painted pavements and signs outside government offices in red and left a note in one suburb that said: “Dear UN, How are you? I hope you are well. As for Myanmar, we are dying.”
A participant in the protest told AFP news agency that the purpose of the activity was to “remember the martyrs who died in the struggle for democracy”.
At least 714 people have died since Senior General Min Aung Hlaing deposed Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s government, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a monitoring group.
“We should not be happy during this festival time,” the protester in Yangon said. “We have to feel sadness for the martyrs who are bleeding and we must continue to fight this battle in any way we can.”
There were no immediate reports of violence at any of the protests on Wednesday, but the Monywa Gazette reported two explosions in the central city of Monywa that wounded one person.
There was no claim of responsibility.
Doctors on trial
The military meanwhile added dozens more people to an arrest warrant list of 260 celebrities, doctors and ordinary citizens, and filed charges against 19 medical doctors for supporting and participating in the civil disobedience movement “with the aim of deteriorating the state administrative machinery”, according to the military-run Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper.
The Irrawaddy newspaper said the doctors were from government hospitals in Naypyidaw, Yangon, Mandalay, Sagaing and Tanintharyi regions and Shan and Kachin states. They face up to three years in jail if found guilty.
The military’s crackdown has drawn widespread international condemnation and calls for restraint, with the United States and other Western countries imposing limited sanctions focused on the Myanmar armed forces and their extensive business interests.
Southeast Asian neighbours have also been encouraging talks between the Myanmar sides but without progress.
The US ambassador to Myanmar, Thomas Vajda, said in a New Year message he was aware that many people were making sacrifices and suffering for their beliefs and convictions in these “very difficult times”.
“I’m deeply impressed with your courage and your commitment,” Vajda said. “Let me also reconfirm the commitment of my colleagues and I … to do all we can to support the people of Myanmar in your aspirations for genuine democracy, peace, and freedom.”
Meanwhile, the United Nations human rights office said on Tuesday it feared that the military clampdown on the protests risked escalating into a civil conflict like that seen in Syria.
“I fear the situation in Myanmar is heading towards a full-blown conflict,” the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said in a statement.
“There are clear echoes of Syria in 2011,” she warned, referring to the start of a war that over the past decade has killed hundreds of thousands of people and forced millions to flee the Middle Eastern country.
Wah 11 soldiers were killed after the vehicle they were riding in turned turtle!
Vid footage showing soldiers randomly shooting civilians in broad daylight:
Vid footage showing policemen getting all physically violent whilst swearing and shouting at folks:
Vid footage showing a 40mm grenade launcher used against protesters:
Vid footage of man whose kid was shot dead at home in ShweBo wailing hysterically:" My son is dead! My son is dead!"
Vid footage showing girls riding a motorcycle being shot in their backs, then abducted by the Junta:
Vid footage showing arrestee being made to jump like a frog in Thanthumar street, South Oakkala:
Vid footage showing three young adults forcibly taken from their homes and beaten up in Thaketa Township, Yangon:
Vid footage showing a man being held at gunpoint, then made to crawl on all fours when he couldn't lift a sandbag:
Fresh batch of photos that will have your insides churning.
Nay Min War
The Burmese folks got some serious balls; they actually set fire to 32 Chinese factories worth 10 billion bucks, destroying them completely.
The families of dozens of people killed in clashes between Myanmar security forces and anti-coup protesters held funerals on Tuesday after candle-lit vigils took place overnight in defiance of a curfew.
Security forces shot dead at least 20 people on Monday in addition to the 74 killed a day earlier, including many in a suburb of Yangon where Chinese-financed factories were torched, according to advocacy group the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP).
On Tuesday, a crematorium in Yangon reported 31 funerals, a mourner at one of the ceremonies said.
Hundreds of young mourners spilled out onto the street at the funeral of medical student Khant Nyar Hein who was killed in Yangon on Sunday, the bloodiest day of the protests.
"Let them kill me right now, let them kill me instead of my son because I can't take it any more," the student's mother was seen saying in a video clip posted on Facebook.
Mourners chanted: "Our revolution must prevail."
Some families told media the security forces had seized the bodies of loved ones but they would still hold a funeral.
Supporters of detained elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi have shown no signs of backing down in the face of escalating violence, with Sunday the bloodiest day since a military coup on Feb. 1.
At least 184 people have been killed by the security forces in the weeks of protests, the AAPP said, with the toll rising on Tuesday as one protester was shot dead in the central town of Kawlin, a resident there said.
People held up pictures of Suu Kyi and called for an end to the repression during a small protest in the southern town of Dawei on Tuesday, the Dawei Watch media outlet reported. There was no report of violence.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was appalled by the escalating violence "at the hands of the country’s military" and called on the international community to help end the repression, his spokesman said.
A junta spokesman did not answer calls requesting comment and Reuters could not independently confirm all the casualties.
Myanmar state broadcaster MRTV said martial law had been imposed in parts of Yangon, the country's commercial hub.
The martial law announcement stated that military commanders in Yangon would take over administration of districts, including the courts, MRTV said.
The army said it took power after its accusations of fraud in a Nov. 8 election won by Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) were rejected by the electoral commission. It has promised to hold a new election, but has not set a date.
The military has ruled Myanmar for most of the years since independence from Britain in 1948, and cracked down hard on previous uprisings before agreeing to the latest attempt at a transition to democracy, now derailed.
Suu Kyi, 75, has been detained since the coup and faces various charges, including illegally importing walkie-talkie radios and infringing coronavirus protocols. Last week, the junta accused her of accepting illegal payments but she has not yet been charged with that.
Western countries have called for Suu Kyi's release and condemned the violence and Asian neighbours have offered to help resolve the crisis, but Myanmar has a long record of rejecting outside intervention.
Arson attacks on Sunday against 32 Chinese-invested factories in the Hlaingthaya area of Yangon prompted China's strongest comments yet on the turmoil gripping its neighbour, where many people see Beijing as supportive of the coup.
China's Global Times newspaper said "vicious attacks" caused damage worth $37 million and injuries to two Chinese employees. Its embassy urged Myanmar's generals to stop the violence.
Japan's Fast Retailing Co, known for the UNIQLO brand of casual clothing stores, said on Tuesday that two supplier factories in Myanmar had been set on fire.
Footage on social media circulating on Tuesday showed what media reported to be another blaze from a factory in Hlaingthaya overnight.
Anti-China sentiment has risen since the coup, fuelled by Beijing's muted criticism of the takeover compared with Western condemnation.
Protest leader Thinzar Shunlei Yi said Myanmar people did not hate their Chinese neighbours though their rulers in Beijing had to understand the outrage felt over China's perceived support for the junta.
"Chinese government must stop supporting coup council if they actually care about Sino-Myanmar relations and to protect their businesses," she said on Twitter.
A nun went down on her knees in front of police in a northern Myanmar town pleading for a stop to the army’s violent crackdown on protesters, before shots rang out. She later said a child was shot in the head.
Video showed Sister Ann Rose Nu Tawng in a white robe and black habit kneeling on a street in the town of Myitkyina on Monday, speaking to two policemen who were also kneeling.
“I begged them not to shoot the children,” she says on the video.
“I begged them not to hurt the protesters, but to treat them kindly like family members,” she told Reuters in a later telephone interview.
“I told them that they can kill me, I am not standing up until they give their promise that they will not brutally crack down on protesters.”
Tawng, who runs a clinic in the town, said she had received assurances from senior officers that they were just clearing the road.
Tawng and one of the policemen are seen touching their foreheads to the ground, but gunfire started soon afterwards.
“We heard loud gunshots, and saw that a young kid’s head had exploded, and there was a river of blood on the street,” Tawng said.
At least two protesters were killed and several others injured, she and other witnesses said.
A military spokesman and police in Myitkyina did not respond to requests for comment.
Tawng tried to bring some of the victims to the clinic before she was blinded by tear gas.
“Our clinic floor became a sea of blood,” she said. “We need to value life. It made me feel so sad.”
The nun had also come between protesters and police lines late last month, pleading for peace, local media reported.
More than 60 people have been killed and more than 1800 detained in the crackdown on protests against the February 1 military coup, Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, an advocacy group has said.
A policeman who fled to India and has now spoken out, said he had orders to shoot at protesters with his submachine gun to disperse them in the town of Khampat on February 27, but refused.
Tha Peng said that, according to police rules, protesters should either be stopped by rubber bullets or shot below the knees. Reuters could not verify police policies.
He was given orders by his superiors to “shoot till they are dead,” he added.
“The next day, an officer called to ask me if I will shoot,” he said. The 27-year-old refused again, and then resigned from the force.
He said he left his home and family behind in Khampat and travelled for three days, mostly at night to avoid detection, before crossing into India’s north-eastern Mizoram state.
“I had no choice,” Tha Peng told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday, speaking via a translator. He gave only part of his name to protect his identity. Reuters saw his police and national ID cards which confirmed the name.
Tha Peng said he and six colleagues all disobeyed the order on that day from a superior officer, whom he did not name. His story could not be verified but the description of events was similar to that given to police in Mizoram on March 1 by another police lance corporal and three constables who crossed into India, according to a classified internal police document seen by Reuters.
“As the civil disobedience movement is gaining momentum and protest(s) held by anti-coup protesters at different places we are instructed to shoot at the protesters,” they said in a joint statement to Mizoram police.
“In such a scenario, we don’t have the guts to shoot at our own people who are peaceful demonstrators,” they said.
Myanmar’s military junta, which deposed the civilian government of Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi after detaining her, did not respond to a request for comment.
A senior Indian official said about 100 people from Myanmar, mostly policemen and their families, have crossed over a porous border into India since the protests began.
Residents say authorities in surgical gear removed body and appeared to take something from it
YANGON: Guarded by police and soldiers, authorities in Myanmar disturbed the grave of a 19-year-old woman who became an icon of the anti-coup protest movement after she was shot dead while wearing a T-shirt that read “Everything will be OK”, a witness and local media said.
One witness said the body of Kyal Sin, widely known as Angel, was removed on Friday, examined and returned, before the tomb was re-sealed in Mandalay. The independent Mizzima news service reported the same.
A military spokesman did not answer calls seeking comment. Reuters was unable to contact police for comment.
State media on Friday questioned reports that the protester had been killed by security forces when they opened fire to disperse a demonstration on Wednesday, and said the cause of death was being investigated by “rule of law bodies”.
Pictures provided to Reuters by a resident who visited the grave on Saturday showed cement that was still drying as well as discarded rubber gloves and boots, surgical gowns and boots. One block appeared to be stained with blood.
A witness who lives near the graveyard said he had seen the grave opened using power tools on Friday evening by a team of at least 30 people that arrived with four cars and two police trucks as well as two trucks of soldiers for security.
“They pulled out the coffin and removed the body and placed it on a bench. They even placed a brick under the head,” said the witness, who declined to be named for fear of reprisals.
“Those who seemed to be doctors wearing the protective cover did something to the body, I think they were touching the head. They took a small piece from the body and showed it to each other.”
Reuters was unable to independently confirm accounts of what happened.
Two other people told Reuters they were warned by local residents not to enter the cemetery on Friday as police and military were inside unearthing Kyal Sin’s body.
Reuters was unable to contact Kyal Sin’s family.
Photographs of her body on Wednesday showed a bloody head wound.
The state-run Global New Light Of Myanmar newspaper said on Friday that experts had analysed the photograph and concluded the injury was not consistent with being caused by an anti-riot weapon.
“If it is the injury caused by the riot weapon or live ammunition, it is not possible for the head of the deceased person to be in good condition,” it said.
“The respective rule of law bodies are investigating the cause of her death and more information will be announced in a timely manner.”
Kyal Sin was among at least 38 people killed on Wednesday, the bloodiest day so far in attempts by security forces to stop protests against the Feb 1 coup that has prompted daily demonstrations for over a month.
The army says it has been restrained in the use of force, but that it will not allow protests to threaten stability. Despite the growing violence directed against demonstrators, large crowds continue to take to the streets.
The army said it overthrew and detained elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi after the electoral commission rejected its allegations of fraud in an election in November that her party had won by a landslide.
Protesters have rejected the army’s promise of new elections and demanded the release of Suu Kyi and other detainees.
SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore’s foreign minister said on Friday it was a “national shame” for the armed forces of a country to use weapons against their own people as he called on Myanmar’s military rulers to seek a peaceful solution to the unrest in the country.
Singapore along with a number of other ASEAN foreign ministers have called for the release of political detainees including civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Balakrishnan said on Friday the foreign ministers were in daily contact with each another over Myanmar.
However, he said that while ASEAN should play a constructive role in facilitating a return to normalcy and stability, there would be limited impact from any external pressure on the situation in Myanmar.
“If you look over the past 70 years, the military authorities in Myanmar, frankly, do not respond to economic sanctions, do not respond to moral opprobrium,” the Singapore minister said.
He said that while references to the ASEAN charter and human rights declaration were essential, they were not sufficient to change the junta’s behaviour.
“The keys ultimately lie within Myanmar. And there’s a limit to how far external pressure will be brought to bear,” Balakrishnan said.
SINGAPORE - Singapore-linked firms have come under pressure from pro-democracy groups as the military crackdown on anti-coup protests in Myanmar grows in violence and bloodshed by the day.
Protests have spilled over from the streets to online, as activists name foreign firms operating in Myanmar that they say may be channelling funds to the military.
Full story at https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/protesters-in-myanmar-pressure-singapore-firms-to-leave
“Today was the bloodiest day since the coup happened on Feb. 1. Just today alone 38 people died. We have now more than over 50 people who died since the coup started” and many more have been wounded, the U.N. special envoy for Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener, told reporters at U.N. headquarters on Wednesday.
In response to media queries on the situation in Myanmar, the MFA Spokesperson said:
In view of the rapidly escalating clashes between protesters and the Myanmar security forces and increasing number of civilian casualties in Myanmar, Singaporeans are strongly advised to defer all travel to Myanmar at this time.
Singaporeans currently in Myanmar should also consider leaving as soon as they can by commercial means while it is still possible to do so.
Singaporeans who choose to remain in Myanmar are strongly advised to remain indoors as far as possible and avoid unnecessary travel, in particular to areas where protests are occurring. Singaporeans are reminded to remain vigilant and monitor local news closely. They should take necessary precautions for their personal safety, and eRegister immediately at https://eregister.mfa.gov.sg. This will enable the Ministry and our Embassy in Yangon to continue to be in touch with them and render the necessary consular assistance in case of emergencies. Those who are in need of consular assistance while in Myanmar should contact the Singapore Embassy in Yangon or the 24-hour MFA Duty Office at:
Embassy of the Republic of Singapore in Yangon
238 Dhamazedi Road, Bahan Township, Yangon, Republic of the Union of Myanmar
Emergency Tel (after hours): +95-9-250-863-840
Ministry of Foreign Affairs Duty Office (24-hours)
Tel: 6379 8800, 6379 8855
Fax: 6476 7302
. . . . .
MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
4 MARCH 2021