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Reports on Myanmar Military’s Anti-Rohingya hate Speech Campaign and Myanmar Authorities’ Failure to Investigate and Punish Sexual Violence Committed Against Rohingya

March 27th, 2024  •  Author:   Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar  •  5 minute read
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Statement by Nicholas Koumjian, Head of the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar

Geneva, 27 March 2024 – Today the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar is publicly releasing two analytical reports. One report details the Myanmar military’s covert Facebook network that systematically distributed hate speech against the Rohingya at the time of the 2017 clearance operations. The second report examines the response of Myanmar state authorities to allegations of sexual and gender-based crimes committed by security forces against the Rohingya. This report concludes that the authorities failed in their duty under international law to investigate and punish these acts.

These reports form a small part of the evidence and analysis that the Mechanism has shared with authorities working on ongoing cases concerning the Rohingya at the International Criminal Court, the International Court of Justice and in Argentina.

These two reports have been made public on an exceptional basis. The vast majority of the material the Mechanism has collected and analyzed must remain confidential. Confidentiality protects the security and privacy of witnesses and sources. It is alsostandard procedure to maintain the confidentiality of ongoing criminal investigations before evidence is presented at trial to prevent efforts to hide or destroy evidence, to protect the integrity of witness testimony, and to avoid alerting suspects who could evade arrest or detection.

However, the Mechanism recognizes that there is a significant public interest in our work, and we aim to be transparent whenever possible. Perhaps some of our analysis can be used by others to advance the purpose of creating the Mechanism: ensuring accountability for the most serious international crimes committed in Myanmar and contributing to ending the very worst violence inflicted upon Myanmar’s people.

After careful evaluation we have decided to publish these reports. Some redactions have been made in the versions of the reports released today in order to preserve future investigative opportunities, avoid disclosing information that could assist perpetrators’ efforts to destroy or conceal evidence, and protect the safety and privacy of witnesses, sources and other persons. The material that has been redacted includes several annexes to the hate speech report.

Report on hate speech

The hate speech report provides a rigorous analysis of content posted on 43 Facebook Pages between July and December 2017. All of these Pages were removed by Facebook in 2018. Six Pages were removed because they were connected to individuals or organizations that Facebook banned from the platform as international experts had found evidence that they had “committed or enabled serious human rights abuses (in Myanmar)”. The other 37 Pages were removed for engaging in “coordinated inauthentic behaviour” in violation of the company’s misrepresentation policies.1

The Mechanism’s analysis concluded that these seemingly unrelated Pages, some of which were devoted to celebrity news and popular culture, were part of a network with clear ties to the Myanmar military. These Pages often shared creators, administrators, and editors and regularly posted material using the same IP addresses used by the Myanmar military. Identical material was often posted on multiple Pages in this network, sometimes within minutes. The report identifies more than 10,000 posts on these Pages that the Mechanism considered hate speech. One such post received more than 200 comments calling for Rohingya to be shot, killed, or permanently removed from Myanmar.

The report concludes that at the very time of mass violence against the Rohingya, the Myanmar military was carrying out a coordinated hate speech campaign against the group.

Report on failure to investigate and punish sexual and gender-based crimes

The report analyzes how state authorities in Myanmar responded to multiple allegations of sexual and gender-based crimes against the Rohingya during the 2016 and 2017 clearance operations.

Under international law, military and civilian leaders are obliged to investigate and, where appropriate, punish acts of those under their command that could amount to serious international crimes, including acts of sexual violence. Furthermore, rape can constitute an underlying act of genocide if committed with the intent to destroy a group. Therefore, the failure to investigate and punish these crimes could amount to a violation of Myanmar’s obligations under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

The report summarizes a variety of material that was publicly available about sexual and gender-based crimes against the Rohingya during the clearance operations, including information published by the media, NGOs and various UN bodies, as well as discussions in the UN Security Council and findings of the International Criminal Court Pre-Trial Chamber and demonstrates that Myanmar state authorities would have been aware of these very serious allegations. The report then examines the response of Myanmar state authorities, including several investigations and inquiries, and explains why these were grossly inadequate both in the process and the results. The report notes that there is no evidence that any soldier or police officer was charged or prosecuted for sexual and gender-based crimes, nor any commander dismissed, demoted, or sanctioned for failing to stop or punish those committing these crimes.

The Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar (IIMM or Mechanism) was created by the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2018 to collect and analyze evidence of the most serious international crimes and other violations of international law committed in Myanmar since 2011. It aims to facilitate justice and accountability by preserving and organizing this evidence and preparing case files that can be used by authorities to prosecute individuals in national, regional, and international courts.

For more information, visit iimm.un.org or contact [email protected]

1. “Removing Myanmar Military Officials from Facebook”, 28 August 2018, https://about.fb.com/news/2018/08/removing-myanmar-officials


View the original in English | Burmese

Download report: Anti-Rohingya Hate Speech on Facebook: Content and Network Analysis

Download report: Efforts to Investigate and Punish Sexual and Gender-Based Crimes Committed against Rohingya: Evidence Analysis