Military Chief Wastes No Time Finding New Home on Social Media

By Moe Myint 29 August 2018

YANGON — Less than 48 hours after the Myanmar military chief’s Facebook account was shut down, a similar page appeared on VKontakte (VK), Russia’s most popular social networking service. The new page had already attracted more than 2,000 followers as of Wednesday.

The page “Senior General Min Aung Hlaing” — the same name as the old Facebook page — featured posts on the latest activities of the military boss, including the senior general’s Wednesday visit to Bago Region’s Swar Township to observe the severe flooding situation there and inspect an Army-constructed bridge.

The posts on the new page are consistent in style with those that had appeared on Facebook. Military spokespersons were not available to verify the authenticity of the page on Wednesday afternoon when contacted by The Irrawaddy.

California-based Facebook announced on Monday that it had deleted the pages and accounts of a total of 20 organizations and individuals, including Snr-Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, who “committed or enabled serious human rights abuses in [Myanmar].” The statement follows a recent report by the UNHRC’s Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar that found the Facebook accounts and pages of these individuals and organizations directly or indirectly contributed to human rights abuses, especially regarding northern Rakhine State’s 2017 Rohingya crisis.

The UNHRC announced on Monday that a report by the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar urged that top Army generals, including commander-in-chief Snr-Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, be prosecuted for genocide and crimes against humanity in northern Rakhine, Kachin and Shan states. Members of the mission also demanded the resignation of the senior general.

The new page also featured posts about the military chief’s recent visit to Russia to attend the Army 2018 International Military Technical Forum and National Security Week, organized by the Russian Defense Ministry.

According to pictures on the page, he met with military officers who are studying for master’s and doctoral degrees in Russia. Since 2001, the military has sent officers to further their education in the country.

Some posts on the new page were published in both Russian and Burmese.

The VK platform provides multiple languages for its users, including Burmese, Russian and English. Its functions are similar to those available on Facebook, allowing users to share information, post photos, create pages and engage in free instant messaging. Users need to supply an email address to register. According to VK’s webpage, it has more than 97 million active users every month.