Twitter Suspends Account of Top Myanmar General Over Hate Speech

Myanmar’s top military leader, seen by rights groups as the architect of a bloody ethnic cleansing campaign that drove more than 700,000 Muslim Rohingya into Bangladesh in 2017, had had his Twitter account suspended, RFA has learned.

Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, accused by the United Nations of, among other things, genocide for the Rohingya campaign, had his @sgminaunghlaing account taken offline this week, nine months after his Facebook account was shuttered for hate speech against the ethnic minority.

The move came after Tun Khin, president of the Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK, raised complaints about hate speech from military accounts with Twitter executives in California.

“The fact that Twitter has joined Facebook in deleting his account – which he used to sow hatred and spew out his defensive propaganda – is a massive victory for the Rohingya people,” The Guardiannewspaper quoted Tun Khin as saying.

“Min Aung Hlaing was the mastermind of the Rohingya genocide … it is crucial that Twitter now follows through in deleting other accounts used by the regime for the same purpose,” he added.

Contacted by RFA’s Burmese Service, a Twitter spokesman said “We don’t comment on individual accounts for privacy and security reasons.”

The removal of 18 Facebook accounts, one Instagram account and 52 pages linked to the Myanmar military in August 2018 came after a fact-finding mission of the U.N.-backed Human Rights Council said Min Aung Hlaing and other Myanmar military leaders should be referred to the International Criminal Court in the Hague for the army campaign that killed thousands and drove some 700,000 of Muslim Rohingya minority into Bangladesh in 2017.

“Many of these violations undoubtedly amount to the gravest crimes under international law,” said the report to the UN by the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, which cataloged abuses in Rakhine, home to the Rohingya, as well as Kachin and Shan States in the north where the army has waged war against ethnic armies for decades.

“They are shocking for the level of denial, normalcy and impunity that is attached to them,” said the 2018 report.

Last week the same U.N. fact-finding mission said Myanmar had made no progress on resolving the Rohingya crisis and recommended that the international community cease all economic dealings with the powerful military.

The army, which has dominated the country once known as Burma since a 1962 coup and still controls the nation from behind the scenes despite the election in 2015 of Aung San Suu Kyi, has denied it used excessive force.

The online Myanmar news outlet The Irrawaddy quoted military spokesman Brigadier-General Zaw Min Tun as denying the commander-in-chief had ever officially used the social media platform.

The news website, however, reported that Min Aung Hlaing had a “verified” account and had been tweeting in both English and Burmese for several years.

Reported by RFA’s Myanmar Service. Written in English by Paul Eckert.