Myanmar’s opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) has denied providing cash to rebuild destroyed mosques amid a flurry of online rumours.
The story was first posted on Facebook and claimed that money donated for opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi’s birthday would be donated to reconstruct the mosques destroyed in the country’s communal violence.
“That news is just a rumour. It’s not at all true,” said Nyan Win, an NLD Central Executive Committee member told Eleven Media.
He added that the money donated was going to the party’s Health Network and Education Network as well as the Daw Khin Kyi Foundation.
The Facebook account of Thway Thitsa, long known to spread reactionary propaganda, initially posted the rumour, which soon went viral on other social media and Facebook accounts.
The malignant spread of misinformation via social media, especially Facebook, has been on the rise in Myanmar. Many accounts have been linked to spreading reactionary propaganda and personal attacks against the reform-minded government, opposition leaders and journalists.
Similar fear-mongering and spread of misinformation was also used in the past.
When elections took place in 1990, rumours spread that the NLD was infiltrated by communists. Now behind-the-scene propagandists have now turned to fabricating news that Muslims are influencing the party.
“There are those who are jealous of the NLD. They will write slanderous news. The people have brains and can decide. The public trust in Aung San Suu Kyi will not decline because of such attacks,” said Aye Thein from NLD’s Education Network.
Buddhist monk U Wirathu, who has a large following and is widely regarded as the leader of ‘969’ movement, has branded the NLD as the ‘Mutdaung party’ or the party filled with Muslims.
Others have been quick to attack the party for not supporting the Buddhist cause.
This is not the first time in Myanmar for propagandists to resort to rumour spreading and misinformation. Only now the tools are the internet, social media and Facebook and the rumours are bent on stirring religious hatred.
The NLD, however, has remained steadfast, choosing to believe in their supporters’ convictions and ability to sift the truth out amongst all the rumour and hate-speech.
“I only assume that those attackers have a low standard of opinions and conviction,” said executive party member Han Tha Myint.
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