Police Investigate 5 Facebook Accounts for Falsely Reporting Academy Raid

By San Yamin Aung 21 November 2017

YANGON — Police are investigating five Facebook accounts allegedly used to spread false reports that authorities had raided a well-known Buddhist academy and discovered firearms at the site.

Police named the accounts as Rohingya Hajee Ismail, Faisal Thar Thakhin, Burma Muslims, Aung Kyaw Oo and Myanmar News page.

Police earlier said the five Facebook pages had been used to post fabricated reports on Oct. 23 claiming that weapons and ammunition had been discovered at Sitagu International Buddhist Academy’s Yangon campus in North Dagon Township. The false reports also claimed the academy’s leading monks had been detained for questioning, and urged the public to report suspicious monasteries.

The reports were widely shared, with many users quick to dismiss them as fake.

The academy—respected in Myanmar and abroad as a hub for Theravada Buddhism—reported the stories to North Dagon Township Police Station, complaining they were defamatory and damaged the image of the academy.

North Dagon Township Police Station chief Than Zaw Min told The Irrawaddy that police were investigating with assistance from the Criminal Investigation Department, but declined to give further information.

The accounts have remained active. Most have several thousand friends, including some known Rohingya rights activists based in Myanmar and Thailand.

“We will announce any arrests,” Than Zaw Min added.

The accounts are being investigated for possible violations of Article 66(d) of Myanmar’s Telecommunications Law.
Article 66(d) proscribes “extorting, coercing, restraining wrongfully, defaming, [or] disturbing any person using a telecommunications network.” Offenders are subject to a maximum prison sentence of two years.

The Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture said the reports were spread with the intention “to incite racial and religious conflict in the country”.