24,000 dead, almost 20,000 women and girls who were raped and 700,000 refugees – these, as of today, are the shocking results of the genocide committed by the Tatmadaw forces, the Myanmar army, against the Rohingya Muslim ethnic minority starting in 2016, and even more so in 2017. This is one of the biggest humanitarian disasters that have happened in the world in the last decades (and there is no need for comparisons to our national disaster, which dwarfs almost every other tragedy in human history, so please spare us the attempt to calculate which is worse). But now it is being revealed in all its ugliness as the worst modern scourge: attempts to profit from the disaster.
A short time ago, the human rights organization Amnesty International published a special report that places full responsibility for the murder – including the obligation to compensate the refugees and finance their rehabilitation – on Meta (formerly Facebook). The reason: Facebook encouraged for years wild incitement against the Rohingya, which ended in their ethnic cleansing From their seat in Rakhine state in Myanmar for the last half decade.
At first glance, one cannot help but shake one’s head in shock at Facebook’s behavior, which completely failed to prevent the spread of hate speech against the Muslim minority in a country where almost 90% of its inhabitants are Buddhists and about 6% Christians, thereby encouraging a conflict that is seemingly reminiscent of the one that split India into two countries – the one that is still called This and that is called Pakistan, and was established for the Muslim minority that was in a state of almost constant war with the other groups in the united country, which threatened to destroy the whole of it.
But on second glance, it is very difficult to compare the two cases – and even more difficult to accept Amnesty’s conclusions.
As mentioned, the one who massacred the Rohingya is not the Myanmar people as a whole – a definition that does not exist, since this is a relatively new country, which does not have a cohesive identity and is home to more than 130 different ethnic groups. The massacre happened by the army – even after the “disappearance” of the Rohingya from the country, it continued to fight against the rest of the citizens and even carried out a coup d’état in the last two years, after the election results were not to its liking.
Army does not receive orders from incitement on social networks. The army receives orders from the generals, who usually receive orders from the government, and in the case of Myanmar and other unstable countries dictate their orders to the government, and if it does not agree with them – simply depose it and take its place.
This is evident in Amnesty’s report. The report is based on interviews with refugees, who tell about the hatred they suffered, both in the real world and on the world’s largest social network. However, these are personal impressions, which are not backed up by any data. Apart from a few anecdotes, such as a single post that received more than 1,000 shares and called a Rohingya human rights activist a “national traitor”, the report does not provide any proof of the claims of the interviewees.
Even the timing of the publication of the report is puzzling: according to the organization, the choice of today (Thursday) was made because it is the first anniversary of the murder of the Rohingya human rights activist Muhammad Mohib Ula by a group of armed men in the Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh. Ostensibly, a national symbol of the genocide – but in Amnesty They forgot to mention that Ola was murdered, according to the local police, by a group of the Rohingya themselves, who saw him as a political rival.
But the cynicism is fully revealed in Amnesty’s recommendations: the organization demands that Meta – hold tight – stop relying on personalized advertising based on user segmentation. Wait, what does incitement to murder have to do with advertisements that adapt themselves to surfers? Amnesty solutions. And that’s not all – the organization also adds a demand from Meta to pay compensation for “physical and mental damage, lost opportunities, including employment, education and social grants, material damage and loss of income, including loss of potential income, and moral damage” – apparently a list of damages caused to the Rohingya. But according to the same report, even before the genocide they were discriminated against to the point of apartheid, so it is not clear what employment and education opportunities they had in a country that abused them for years before slaughtering them, tried their daughters and forced them to move to countries where they are currently defined as refugees, but can receive rights that were not given to them at home. And this is even before we get into the requirements for funding – “support for (civil society organizations) to provide effective compensation to the affected Rohingya communities.” In other words: a donation to Amnesty and organizations related to it. Amnesty is not satisfied with compensation for the poor people. It wants To be the one to decide what to do with the money she says they deserve. Cynicism at its finest.
Bottom line, Amnesty can accuse Meta of cynically exploiting the Rohingya for profit while ignoring the consequences of the way the profits are made for their fate – but Amnesty is guilty of exactly the same kind of exploitation. Instead of proving that Facebook was used to incite against the Rohingya, the organization demonstrates the same kind of cynical exploitation of the plight of others to gain victories in a political struggle that has nothing to do with them.
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