Wed 10 June 2020:

In August 2017, a deadly crackdown by Myanmar’s army on Rohingya Muslims sent hundreds of thousands fleeing across the border into Bangladesh.

They risked everything to escape by sea or on foot a military offensive which the United Nations later described as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.

In January 2020, the UN’s top court ordered the Buddhist-majority country to take measures to protect members of its Rohingya community from genocide.

But the army in Myanmar (formerly Burma) has said it was fighting Rohingya militants and denies targeting civilians. The country’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi, once a human rights icon, has repeatedly denied allegations of genocide.

In 2018 U.N. human rights investigators said that Facebook played a key role in spreading hate speech that fuelled violence in Myanmar. Facebook has said it is working to block hate speech.

A request, filed on behalf of The Gambia on June 8 with the U.S. District Court for the District of Colombia, calls on Facebook to release “all documents and communications produced, drafted, posted or published on the Facebook page” of military officials and police forces.

The U.S. case has been referred to a judge who is due to schedule a meeting with representatives of Facebook and The Gambia as soon as possible.

Facebook confirmed it was aware of The Gambia’s request and would evaluate it in accordance with applicable laws.

Among officials whose Facebook data is being sought were Min Aung Hlaing, commander-in-chief of Myanmar’s armed forces. Details from 20 accounts of officials and organisations banned by Facebook in August 2018 were also sought, the document said.

World Court judges have ordered Myanmar to take urgent measures to protect the Rohingya population from genocide and other forms of violence until the case is heard in full.

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