New Delhi, June 13 (IANS) Representatives of the Rohingya genocide victims in Myanmar were set to write a Letter Before Action against against Facebook, the social media giant now known as Meta, over its role in enabling the genocide, a report said on Monday.
The Letter comes in advance of an anticipated claim seeking damages from the tech giant that, it is alleged, encouraged and facilitated the violence and ethnic cleansing carried out by the Myanmar regime.
The claim also alleges that Facebook prioritised “growth and profit over safety” and that this directly led to the brutal suffering of the Rohingya.
The case will argue that Facebook breached its duty of care to its users, was “fully aware of the mobilising power” its platform had and the effects this could cause, and ignored numerous stark warnings of the damage that was unfolding as a direct result of their business.
The Letter demands key pre-action disclosure within six weeks and a full response within three months.
It details the immense suffering that the Rohingyas have suffered through the acts of genocide and ethnic cleansing in Myanmar, and also how Facebook – despite being repeatedly put on notice by civil society and NGOs – was used over a number of years to spread hate speech and incitements of violence against this long-persecuted group which culminated in the clearance operations of 2017/2018.
“For people in Burma at that time, Facebook was the internet – it was the dominant internet site and app. Facebook ignored public appeals and even their own reporting mechanisms, and refused to stop the military and others using its platform to spread the lies, hatred, prejudice and incitement used to enable and build support for genocide against the Rohingya,” said Tun Khin, President of the Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK, in a statement.
The lawyers anticipate that Facebook will, as in all previous correspondence, attempt to dodge liability by directing the victims to other Facebook entities in different jurisdictions where it is more difficult/impossible for the victims to achieve justice (due to technical barriers to such a case being brought in those countries).
Rohingya people suffered atrocities at the hands of both the military and civilians. In 2017 alone, more than 10,000 people were killed and over 150,000 were subject to physical violence.
They continue to suffer serious psychological trauma and displacement, as almost the entire population were forced to flee Myanmar. Approximately one million survivors now reside in temporary refugee camps in Bangladesh.
Facebook – a group described in the 2018 UN report as having “an extraordinary and outsized role” in the country – has admitted that it did not do enough to stop its platform from being used to create division and incite real world violence.