Facebook ordered to post anti-Rohingya messages over genocide case

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Washington (AFP)

A US judge ordered Facebook to post the deleted messages from the social network because of their role in the government-backed incitement to violence against the Rohingya people in Myanmar.

In his ruling on Wednesday, Washington DC District Court Judge Zia Faruqui criticized the company for refusing to provide the documents to countries pursuing a case against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice.

Facebook had resisted posting the content due to US privacy law.

But the judge ruled that deleted messages would not be covered by protections for users’ personal communications.

“Locking up requested content would waste the opportunity to understand how disinformation led to genocide,” Faruqui wrote in his ruling, saying Facebook “taking the mantle of privacy rights is rich in irony.”

Facebook has been accused of being slow to respond to abusive posts portraying Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims in inhuman terms, helping to mobilize support for a military crackdown that has forced more than 740,000 members of the persecuted minority to flee the country in 2017.

In August 2018, United Nations investigators called for an international investigation and prosecution of the Burmese army chief and five other high-ranking military commanders for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

On the same day, Facebook banned top generals from its platform.

The Gambia brought the predominantly Buddhist Myanmar to the highest UN tribunal in The Hague, accusing it of violating the 1948 UN Genocide Convention.

The Gambian authorities, in a statement titled “Gambia beats Facebook”, hailed the judgment as a boost for their case against Myanmar.

Facebook said Thursday it was reviewing the judge’s decision and pointed out that it made voluntary disclosures to the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar (IIMM), which collects and analysis of evidence of serious international crimes in this Southeast Asian country.

“We are reviewing this decision. We remain appalled at the atrocities committed against the Rohingya people in Myanmar and support justice for international crimes,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement.

“We are committed to disclosing relevant information to authorities, and over the past year we have made voluntary and legal disclosures to IIMM and will continue to do so as the case against the Myanmar is making progress. “

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