The Burmese military has resurfaced on Facebook nearly two years after the social media giant removed numerous army accounts for spreading hatred, reports Radio Free Asia. The military has opened two Burmese-language Facebook accounts called “Tatmadaw True News Information Team” and “Zaw Min Tun”.
Mark Farmaner, director of Burma Campaign UK, said the military set up the two new “propaganda pages to spread lies” as it faces legal action on genocide-related charges in three international courts, including the U.N.’s International Court of Justice (ICJ).
“They are under pressure, and obviously they want to convince people in Myanmar that the evidence against them is not true,” he said. “They want to build more support for their actions.”
Kirin has ordered an independent probe into its beer businesses in Burma following pressure from human rights campaigners. The Financial Times says the case underscores the perils for companies operating in one of the world’s riskiest emerging markets.
“There is no doubt that they are bowing to pressure from campaigns, but it looks like what they are doing is to find an excuse to stay in Burma and stay in business with the military,” said Mark Farmaner, director of Burma Campaign UK. As long as they do, Kirin remains on BCUK’s Dirty List.
Read FT article (behind paywall)
A British civil engineering company is facing criticism for its involvement in resettling Rohingya refugees on a “prison island” in the Bay of Bengal, reports the Telegraph. The Bangladeshi Navy is sending refugees to the island as punishment for escaping the world’s largest refugee camp, Kutupalong in Cox’s Bazar.
The island is prone to flooding and is unfit for human habitation because it lies less than than three metres above sea level and its inhabitants risk being submerged during next month’s monsoon.
Mark Farmaner, director of Burma Campaign UK, said: “Without the expertise of HR Wallingford, Bangladesh would have been unable to prepare the island and imprison Rohingya on it against their will.”
Read Telegraph article (behind paywall)
Burma Campaign UK was one of several human rights and humanitarian organisations invited to give written evidence to the International Development Committee of the British Parliament on the Rohingya crisis. All the evidence is now available to read on the Parliament website.
The risk of large-scale community spread of the COVID-19 virus is extremely high in Rakhine State, where tens of thousands of people are displaced as a result of conflict, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya are confined in camps and villages and the government has imposed an internet blackout.
Mark Farmaner, director of Burma Campaign UK reiterated international calls for the blackout to be lifted.
“The internet shutdown, designed to cover up human rights violations, will now mean more people die as they will not be able to access life-saving information about how to avoid catching and spreading the virus,” he told Devex.
Anna Roberts, Burma Campaign UK’s Executive Director, was interviewed on VOA Burmese News about BCUK’s Dirty List and Boycott List campaigns.
Campaigners have called on the UK-based Portia Management Services to end its relationship with KT Services and Logistics, which leases the TMT Ports shipping terminal in Yangon from a military-owned company.
Mark Farmaner, director of Burma Campaign UK, said: “As the company managing the port on behalf of KT Services, Portia Management is critical to ensuring the port makes enough money to pay for the lease from the military. This money funds the military and is helping to pay for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.”
Portia Management is on BCUK’s Dirty List.
Today the British ambassador to Myanmar said:
“The increased violence in Rakhine State over the past few days is causing misery for many of the people living there. Today’s reported shelling of a school on Myanmar’s Children’s Day, following recent deaths of women and children, highlights the impact this is having on innocent people.
The UK Government urges all sides in the conflict to cease the fighting and do their utmost to protect civilians. It also urges the Government to lift the internet restrictions in Rakhine State which would help provide a better sense of what is happening. This would, in turn, help protect innocent people.”
In a special report, World Finance weighs up the pros and cons of investing in Burma.
The article points out that companies that have any connection to the military, which is usually held responsible for the crisis’ worst atrocities, have found themselves on Burma Campaign UK’s Dirty List. Facebook, in particular, has been singled out for criticism for allowing its platform to spread misinformation about the Rohingya Muslim community.
Qatar’s Peninsula newspaper reports on the ruling by the International Court of Justice ordering Burma to take all possible measures to prevent genocide against the Rohingya – and the loss by Aung San Suu Kyi of “the remaining shreds of her hard-won international reputation”.
At home, by contrast, the Peninsula quotes Burma Campaign UK: “Undoubtedly, ahead of an election year, her decision to personally defend the case, making it about her, and using it as an opportunity to whip up nationalism, has boosted her public support ahead of an election year.”