Why social media posts by Rohingya activists are getting deleted
The social media posts of some Rohingya activists reporting on conflicts in Myanmar were blocked, raising questions if they had been targeted by a co-ordinated campaign.
One such prominent activist, Shah Hossain has been running a Facebook page for the last seven years. He became alarmed when he realised that a number of his posts detailing the recent events in Myanmar's Rakhine state were being deleted.
Much of the content included graphic depictions of violence, but Facebook's guidelines generally allow such images if they deem them to be in the public interest, rather than "shared for sadistic pleasure or to celebrate or glorify violence."
Hundreds of thousands of mainly Muslim Rohingya have fled the country and Hossain, like other activists, is trying to highlight the violence that people are subject to.
Since August, over 400,000 mainly Muslim Rohingya have fled from Myanmar to neighbouring Bangladesh amid a military crackdown in Myanmar's Rakhine state, which the UN says could amount to ethnic cleansing.
Hossain, who lives in Saudi Arabia, says he has contacts living in Myanmar who regularly send him images and videos of the conflict unfolding there.
He argues that many of the images he receives are graphic, but if they’re not shown to the world how else will people know of the extent of the suffering of the Rohingya Muslims in Burma.
Hossain is one of a number of Rohingya activists who have had accounts or videos taken down by big social networks in the wake of the conflict in the region.
The issue is not confined to Facebook. Hossain is also one of the activists who runs the YouTube channel Arakan News Agency with almost 60,000 subscribers and suddenly YouTube deleted the channel last month.
YouTube has said that the channel had received several "strikes" in quick succession, which resulted in its suspension - but that they had taken the decision to reinstate it.
Laura Haigh, Amnesty International's Burma researcher, has said that a number of Rohingya activists have also reported that their Twitter and Facebook accounts have been frozen.
An activist based in Germany, says that non-graphic text-only posts containing allegations against the Burmese military have also been taken down, along with posts including poems.
Activists say that freezing their accounts or deleting their posts is part of a campaign by government or government backers to discredit the activists of the Rohingya crisis by reporting their posts to social media companies. This allegation has also been made by human rights groups.