A Dutch man and two Cambodian men were arrested in Cambodia on Tuesday after videos circulated on Facebook showing a man torturing a toddler with an electric prod. A Vietnamese man believed to be the one holding the prod in the videos has reportedly fled to Vietnam, the Cambodia Daily reported yesterday.
(The child is alive. His parents worked on the Dutch man’s farm in Mondolkiri Province and said they were unaware of the abuse until the videos surfaced because the child had no external injuries. Cambodian police said there is strong evidence the child was raped.)
The same day the three men were arrested, the Daily Mail in the UK published a story with the headline “Heartbreaking images show ‘Rohingya toddler tortured with a stun gun by laughing Burmese soldier’ as Burma continues crackdown on the country’s Muslim minority”. The story contains screenshots of the video of the Cambodian boy being tortured.
According to the Daily Mail, the video was posted online with a claim that the perpetrator was a Burmese soldier, though the article did not include a link to any such post.
Readers were quick to point out the Daily Mail’s error, and many also interpreted the false report as evidence to support the claim that Myanmar is the victim of a global smear campaign in which the Rohingya are the most potent political tool.
Presidential spokesperson Zaw Htay and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi have been among the many Burmese people who continue to make such claims, even as reports of human rights abuses against the Rohingya continue to emerge from the closed-off Rakhine State.
After receiving dozens of comments pointing out that the video was unrelated to the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar, the Daily Mail removed the story from its site. An archived version of the story can be seen here.
If the Daily Mail was trying to muster public sympathy for the Rohingya, it sadly seems to have made that task a little more difficult for all of us.
See some of the comments by emboldened racists below: