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Facebook bans militant group Rohingya

Facebook said it had banned a militant group Rohingya from its site, calling it a “dangerous organization” as information about the worsening crisis is confused by claims, counter-claims and hate speech on social networks.

The social network is a key tool in the information war that is taking place on violence in Rakhine State in Myanmar, which expelled more than 420,000 Muslim Rohingyas from the country and triggered charges of “ethnic cleansing” led by the military.

Rohingyas activists used the platform to publicize the allegedly brutal scenes in the conflict zone, where humanitarian and media access is severely restricted, while the army and government provide almost daily updates of the crisis.

A Facebook spokeswoman told AFP on Wednesday that she had not been invited by the government to prevent the Salvation Army Rohingya Arakan (ARSA), which remains active on Twitter.

The spokeswoman added that the move was consistent with her policy of banning violent groups from her site.

The latest violence at Rahkine broke out after a series of deadly ARSA attacks on military posts in August.

The army was accused of having launched a repression in response that forced hundreds of thousands of Muslim Rohingyas, as well as ethnic Buddhists from Rakhine and Hindu, in neighboring Bangladesh.

The spokesperson said Facebook was aware that the Rohingyas activists were using the site to draw attention to the violence and that it intended to allow non-graphic content to stay online.

Myanmar de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi rejected accusations of atrocities and accused “a huge iceberg of misinformation” to complicate the conflict.

World leaders have increasingly criticized what the United Nations has called an “example of an ethnic cleansing manual” against the Rohingya Muslims.

Britain sent five Myanmar army officers to a training session this week, “because of the current situation in Rakhine,” Myanmar’s army said on Wednesday.

The measure is in the middle of a growing diplomatic row between the two countries, and Britain said on Wednesday it had suspended all training courses for the Myanmar army due to concerns about human rights violations in the State of Rakhine.

The Rohingyas are widely abused in the Buddhist majority of Myanmar, where they are considered “Bangladeshi” clandestine immigrants from modern Bangladesh during British colonial rule.

There were about 1.1 million Rohingyas in Rakhine State prior to the current crisis, although almost half fled to Bangladesh, where they limited themselves to poorly equipped camps.