Saturday, February 24, 2024

Rohingya refugees file PIL seeking protection from hate content on Facebook

Rohingya children in India’s Haryana refugee camp. Photo: Irfan Hadi K

The Rohingya refugees have filed a Public Interest Petition (PIL) seeking protection of their right to life as members of their community in Delhi and across the nation face violence, sometimes leading to physical threats, due to the spread of hateful remarks on Facebook that target them based on their religion and ethnicity, The Wire reported.

The petitioners claim that Facebook’s inaction against hate speech on its platform harms them and that the posts that target them have Indian origins.

In 2021, Rohingya refugees sued Facebook for $150bn over claims the social network is failing to stem hate speech on its platform. The complaint, lodged in a California court, said the algorithms that power the social media giant promote disinformation and extreme thought that translates into real-world violence.

A Muslim minority, the Rohingya people originate from the Rakhine state of Myanmar.

According to UNHCR, India was providing refuge to over 74,600 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, which is more than the estimated 54,100 who have entered since the coup in February 2021.

Rohingyas face severe hostilities in India due to hate campaigns against them by India’s right-wing media and politicians. Maktoob has documented that authorities detained several refugees indefinitely while Indian courts have asked to have a guideline on it.

A 2019 study on hate speech on Facebook in India discovered that, despite the Rohingya making up only 0.02% of India’s Muslim population at the time, 6% of Islamophobic remarks were particularly anti-Rohingya.

The Rohingya are a predominantly Muslim ethnic minority based in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine State. In August 2017, more than 700,000 Rohingya fled Rakhine when the Myanmar security forces launched a targeted campaign of widespread and systematic murder, rape and burning of homes. The violence followed decades of state-sponsored discrimination, persecution, and oppression against the Rohingya which amounts to apartheid.

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