Banned: Myanmar military chief Min Aung Hlaing gets the boot from Twitter

Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing speaks at a military parade in honor of Armed Forces’ Day in Naypyidaw. Photo: Facebook / Senior General Min Aung Hlaing
Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing speaks at a military parade in honor of Armed Forces’ Day in Naypyidaw. Photo: Facebook / Senior General Min Aung Hlaing

General Min Aung Hlaing’s tweeting days are over.

The top-ranking general in Myanmar, notorious for insisting that there was no use of “excessive force” in the August 2017 military campaign that drove out more than 730,000 Rohingya Muslims, was given the boot by the social media network yesterday, a move that follows similar suspensions of his accounts on Facebook and Russia’s VK platform in August.

Attempts to access the commander-in-chief’s Twitter profile today, will redirect you to a landing page that simply says the “account has been suspended.”

Calling it a “victory for all Rohingya,” Tun Khin, president of the Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK, broke the news on Twitter yesterday, adding that a “long campaign” to boot the general had concluded with a meeting with Twitter officials a week ago.

“I met with Twitter executives in Silicon Valley. I told them how Min Aung Hlaing masterminded the genocide of the Rohingya and more human rights violations with other ethnic minorities in Yangon. They were moved emotionally by what I presented; you could see it in their faces,” Tun Khin told Coconuts Yangon today. 

Twitter may have finally taken notice of the general’s 140-character missives after the global backlash in December that followed company CEO and meditation enthusiast Jack Dorsey enthusiastically tweeting about his visit to Myanmar without mentioning the ethnic cleansing taking place in Rakhine State.

Tun Khin also met with Google, Youtube and Facebook where he warned them against the rise of disinformation on their platforms as Myanmar moves closer to the 2020 elections.

“MaBaTha and the Tatmadaw continually use these platforms to spread hate speech and lies. These platforms couldn’t stop them from continuing to abusing their services. In 2018, Facebook only had four content moderators; now they have 100 but they are still slow to act,” Tun Khin said.

“They need to partner with local civil society organizations in order to best tackle these issues.”

A chorus of Rohingya rights activists, international human rights advocates and journalists yesterday praised the move, with some calling for other online platforms to join Twitter in banning Min Aung Hlaing.

Just yesterday, the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar urged the international community to sever all “financial and other support to Myanmar’s military,” in a bid to isolate the leadership so they can ultimately “answer charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.”

The Fact Finding Mission’s chairperson, Marzuki Darusman, said in the statement that the move was necessary as Myanmar hasn’t done enough “to resolve the nation’s conflicts and protect human rights.”

“The situation is at a total standstill,” he said.

The Myanmar military stands accused of “grave human rights violations,” “crimes against humanity” and “genocide” by various international human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, Fortify Rights and the United Nations.

During a brutal August 2017 military campaign, the Myanmar military drove out more than 730,000 Rohingya Muslims into neighboring Bangladesh, precipitating one of the largest refugee crises in the world.

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