USDP Calls for Action Against Facebook

By The Irrawaddy 31 August 2018

NAWPYITAW—The Lower House Speaker T Khun Myat rejected the urgent proposal from military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) regarding Facebook’s removal of the accounts of members of the Myanmar Army including the army chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing.

“Some may think that it is unnecessary to take seriously things done by a private company, but it insults the dignity of the country,” USDP lawmaker U Thaung Aye told The Irrawaddy.

“I put forward the proposal because I want the government to respond and protect [the dignity of the country] and because I want the government to win greater trust from people,” added the ex-Lieutenant General.

“The insult to the Tatmadaw, which has saved and protected the country, is an insult to the people and the country.”

Amid heavy condemnation for failing to combat hate speech against Rohingya and other Muslims, the social media giant on Monday announced it was removing 18 Facebook accounts, one Instagram account and 52 Facebook pages of military individuals and organizations “to prevent the spread of hate and misinformation” on the platforms.

The statement says Facebook is acting on a recent report by the UNHRC’s Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar that found the Facebook accounts and pages of these individuals and organizations to have directly or indirectly contributed to human rights abuses.

“Myanmar’s top military generals, including Commander-in-Chief Senior-General Min Aung Hlaing, must be investigated and prosecuted for genocide in the north of Rakhine State, as well as for crimes against humanity and war crimes in Rakhine, Kachin and Shan States,” said the report published the same day.

Facebook’s deleting of the accounts amounts to affirming the alleged human rights violations of the Myanmar Tatmadaw, said U Thaung Aye. “This insults the dignity of the Tatmadaw and sovereignty of the country.”

U Thaung Aye put forward the urgent proposal on Wednesday.

“The government has spoken [against the removal of the accounts]. But it is not enough. It must issue an official statement. If necessary, it must block [Facebook]. We have to show our national pride that we won’t give into bullying,” he said.

The Office of the Lower House said yesterday that his proposal is against the parliamentary by-laws and was therefore rejected.

According to the Office of the Lower House, the proposal was rejected according to the parliamentary by-law in paragraph 2 of Article 163(a).

An urgent proposal, the provision says, can be submitted only when an issue arises recently, and is a matter of urgency to the public, and is in need of decision of the Parliament.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.