A statement has been released by the Social Networking companybased in the US that Facebook has removed several accounts and pages associated with the Tatmadaw and other related personnel in Myanmar. It said that Facebook has removed 18 accounts and 52 pages associated with the Tatmadaw, according to the statement.
The Government didn’t know beforehand about it
U Zaw Htay, a spokesman of the Office of the President said, “The first thing is that I was at the meeting with local business leaders the whole day, and later found out the statement released by the Facebook team after the meeting. It was said that 18 accounts together with 52 pages had been banned because of the violation of the community standard. When we review the community standards of the Facebook, it is found out that there are some screenshots, and the Government didn’t seem to know about it in advance. The second thing is that we have many questions to be raised regarding the removal of these Facebook accounts and pages, such as: why did they ban, further details on the reasons of banning, and how can we retrieve these accounts and pages from the side of the relevant persons? The third point is who would make the approval regarding the violation of the community standard in the long term. We have learned that Myawady news and its relevant pages were banned. The main thing I want to mention is that there is nothing to do with the Social Media Monitoring Team (SMMT) as of the government body. We have seen that there were some fake statements and orders released by the President’s Office on Facebook. They had removed our pages, and we also asked for the reasons when we were in need of some information and encounter many inconveniences. By the time Vice President of the Facebook arrived in Myanmar, we managed to discuss regarding these issues.
Discussion with Facebook again
“We, especially, made many discussions on information and several agreements between the Government and Facebook Team. But it hasn’t completed it yet. We are going to make discussions with them by the time they come again in Myanmar.”
“Regarding the violation of human rights issues, our government had already mentioned it clearly. The first point is that the government has zero tolerance for human rights violations. The second point is that the government had already said three points beforehand when dealing with the Rakhine issues. First, precautionary measures have to be made for both of Tatmadaw and police force, aiming to abide by the laws and regulations, and not to violate the human rights. If there is any cases against human rights, just give us strong evidence, record and date so that we can undertake the investigation into it.
Moreover we can proceed the procedures that can take legal action against to those who break the rules and regulations. We have already formed the Independent Commission of Enquiry to carry out the implementation process.”
“Another point is that Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) report is to be submitted on 18 September. The United Nations Security Council hold a briefing on Myanmar on 25 August that is marked the one-year anniversary of the ARSA terrorist attacks in Rakhine State. As far as I can see, this FFM report would issue prior to the meeting. The second point is that FFM was formed with the resolution of the Human Rights Council. Our government has spoken openly to the world that we dissociate the resolution of the Human Rights Council, as a consequence, we haven’t taken part in it and denied it either. We didn’t allow the FFM to enter into Myanmar, that’s why we don’t agree and accept any resolutions made by the Human Rights Council.
As I mention before, a report has been launched and submitted by FFM, thereby they attempted to remove the Facebook accounts and pages. So it is evident that all these situations have inter-relationships with one another. Our stance is clear and I want to say sharply that we don’t accept any resolutions conducted by the Human Rights Council. The second point is that our country has accountability and responsibility framework regarding the human rights issues. Also Myanmar has zero tolerance to any human rights violation, and there is no exception on it.
Carrying out the finding of the investigation commission
The second point is that we shall take into legal action against any violation of human rights. The third point is that we have formed the Independent Commission of Enquiry to response to false allegations made by the UN Agencies and other international communities, and we are aware of it and going to carry out the process according to the findings and report of the Enquiry Commission. Our government has made pledges to tackle these issues by implementing the process.
Regarding the removals of the Facebook accounts, we have made inquiries to the Facebook for further details on the reasons for the ban. We fear of the government’s efforts with regard to national reconciliation and peace process in Myanmar. There may arise some misunderstandings due to the impact of the SMMT. The first point is that the Facebook said it was removing several Facebook accounts, including Commander-in-Chief from the social media websites and pages. The second point is that there is no government involvement in this case. The third point is that the government is nothing to do with the SMMT. Thus we raised some questions to the Facebook regarding this case.
In the face of mounting criticism and fear among the people, the government also wants to characterize what is going on in the country, and discussions are being made to deal with this issue. There isn’t any branch office of Facebook in our country, but we use it as users in the World Wide Web – www. As for the government, negotiation had been made to sign MoU with the Facebook, and plans are under way to reach the agreements between the government and Facebook Team.
Another thing is that Facebook becomes one of the social media as well as main stream media in Myanmar. Increasingly Facebook has been a useful instrument for those seeking to get information, in a context where for most users Facebook is the Internet. There is no doubt that Facebook has both its pros and cons. As for the government, efforts should be made to enact the Cyber Law in order to safeguard the security and to prevail rule of law for the interests of the people in the long run.
By Kyaw Thu Htet and Hmwe Kyu Zin
Win Ko Ko Aung