MYANMAR GOVERNMENT DISTANCES ITSELF FROM FACEBOOK BANS ON MILITARY

YANGON, The Mynamar government moved quickly to deny that it had any role in or advance knowledge of Facebook’s decision to ban the pages and accounts of several senior Myanmar military officials including Army chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing.

Speaking to reporters in Naypyitaw, President’s Office spokesperson U Zaw Htay said that soon after Facebook made the announcement, he received calls from military officials, including a number of lieutenant-generals, asking if he had any information about the account closures.

Amid heavy condemnation for failing to combat hate speech against Rohingya and other Muslims, the social media giant on Monday announced it was removing 18 Facebook accounts, one Instagram account and 52 Facebook pages of military individuals and organizations to prevent the spread of hate and misinformation on the platforms.

Military commander-in-chief Sen-Gen. Min Aung Hlaing and Myawady TV � the military’s propaganda television network � were among those whose pages and accounts were banned.

Neither the government nor [the government’s] social media monitoring team played a part in [the decision by Facebook], U Zaw Htay said.

We are concerned that misunderstandings that the government played a role in the decision will hinder the government’s efforts on national reconciliation, he said.

The government has asked Facebook to more fully explain the bans.

Facebook’s action came hours after the UN Human Rights Council’s fact-finding mission on Myanmar released its report, which found that the actions of Myanmar’s military leadership against the Rohingya had genocidal intent.

We want to prevent them from using our service to further inflame ethnic and religious tensions, Facebook said in its announcement. The pages and accounts’ content violated its Community Standards, it added.

Former Lieutenant-General U Thaung Aye, a Lower House lawmaker for the military proxy Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), described Facebook’s move as one-sided, given that the military had launched several investigations into accusations of human-rights violations and taken action against the perpetrators.

The Tatmadaw [Myanmar’s military] is a really strong institution in our country. Those [Facebook] accounts were used by this institution to report its good activities. Myawady TV is also a news agency reporting in line with the [media] policy for all people To me, it is like insulting the sovereignty of our country. The government should respond decisively, he said.

Veteran journalist and Myanmar analyst Bertil Lintner said the Army chief would likely be much more upset about being excluded from Facebook than at the prospect of being brought before the International Criminal Court, because the ban is something that really impacts him directly.

Followed by millions of the Army chief’s supporters and other members of the public, the removed accounts and pages were the military’s main channels of communication with the people.

Source: NAM News Network