Media Release from Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK (BROUK)
For immediate release 22nd September 2022
BROUK asks Facebook for evidence as part of genocide case in Argentina
The Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK (BROUK) has again petitioned Facebook to share information relevant to the genocide case it is pursuing in an Argentinian court. A federal court in Buenos Aires has, through the US State Department, asked the social media giant to submit any evidence as soon as possible.
The move is part of the universal jurisdiction case on the Rohingya genocide that was opened in Argentina last year after a petition from BROUK.
“Facebook continues to put profits and its own ‘brand value’ before the lives of Rohingya people. The platform has been used to spread hatred and misinformation against the Rohingya for years, including when the military killed thousands in Rakhine State in 2016 and 2017,” said Tun Khin, President of BROUK.
“We urge Facebook to respond as soon as possible with any relevant information. This is crucial not just to our case, but to expose the deeply harmful effects of misinformation and online hate speech everywhere.”
In 2016 and 2017, Myanmar military launched vicious operations in Rakhine State which killed thousands of Rohingya women, men and children, and drove close to 800,000 to flee into Bangladesh.
There is much evidence that Facebook, the overwhelmingly most popular social media platform in Myanmar, was used to vilify the Rohingya before, during and after the campaigns. The UN Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar in 2019 concluded that “Facebook is the leading platform for hate speech in Myanmar” and that the company has a responsibility to tackle its spread.
While Facebook has since taken some positive steps – including strengthening monitoring in Myanmar language and banning military-linked accounts – activists and human rights groups have consistently said that the company’s efforts fall short of what is required.
In February this year, the Argentinian judiciary first petitioned Meta, Facebook’s parent company, to share information relevant to BROUK’s universal jurisdiction case. In its new request issued on 17 August 2022, however, the Federal Court in Buenos Aires has approached the US State Department Directly to ensure the compliance of Facebook. While there is no formal deadline attached to the request, Facebook is legally required to respond as soon as possible.
The request has been made through the Inter-American Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters, a treaty adopted by Members of the Organization of American States in 1996 to facilitate cooperation in criminal cases.
Facebook is being asked to;
• Identify and block all pages promoting hate or violence towards the Rohingya, and provide information on its users;
• Provide information on accounts or pages linked to Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, the Myanmar Commander in Chief, and other senior military figures; and
• Provide information on how its own algorithms might have facilitated the spread of hatred against the Rohingya, and what steps the company has taken to prevent the dissemination of hate speech in the future.
“The genocide against the Rohingya is still ongoing to this day. International justice is crucial to ensure that those responsible are held to account, and are never in a position to commit the same crimes again,” said Tun Khin.
“Since the military’s attempted coup, our case in Argentina is now even more relevant. This is a fight for justice not just for the Rohingya, but for repressed people all over Myanmar.”
In a separate communication, the Federal Court has also requested that the US State Department provide information relevant to the US’s determination that the Rohingya are facing a genocide, announced in May this year.
Background: Universal jurisdiction case
On 13 November 2019, BROUK petitioned Argentinean Courts to open an investigation into the role of Myanmar’s civilian and military leaders in committing genocide and crimes against humanity against the Rohingya. Under the principle of universal jurisdiction, such crimes can be investigated anywhere in the world regardless of where they were committed.
On 28 November 2021, the Argentinian judiciary took the historic decision to accept the case and begin the first-ever universal jurisdiction trial anywhere in the world regarding the Rohingya. Since then, BROUK President Tun Khin has testified in court in Argentina, and later this year BROUK hopes to bring genocide survivors to share their stories in person in the Federal Court in Buenos Aires.
For more information, please contact Tun Khin on +44 7888714866.