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The site aired support for the military's bloody "clearance operations" a year ago that forced some 700,000 Rohingya over the border into Bangladesh.

Investigators noted that the civilian government, led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, is nowhere near as culpable as the military for the slaughter of civilians because Myanmar's constitution grants ultimate authority to the military.

The Mission report concluded "there is sufficient information to warrant the investigation and prosecution of senior officials in the Tatmadaw chain of command, so that a competent court can determine their liability for genocide in relation to the situation in Rakhine State". But the document said that "through their acts and omissions, the civilian authorities have contributed to the commission of atrocity crimes".

The U.N. Security Council should ensure all perpetrators are held to account, preferably by referring Myanmar to the International Criminal Court (ICC) or by creating an ad hoc tribunal, the investigators said.

The U.N. report said the military action, which included the scorching of villages, was "grossly disproportionate to actual security threats".

The fact-finding mission went beyond the military's actions in Rakhine and investigated its conduct more broadly since 2011, a time when the world was celebrating the country's opening to the West and nominally democratic transformation.

"The crimes in Rakhine State, and the manner in which they were perpetrated, are similar in nature, gravity and scope to those that have allowed genocidal intent to be established in other contexts", said the United Nations panel, known as the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar.

John Packer, an expert in worldwide law and human rights at the University of Ottawa, said Canada could play a leading role by marshalling an global effort to urge the security council to refer the matter to ICC.

The Tatmadaw regularly uses its official Facebook pages to discredit allegations of the crimes it has committed in Rahkine and to stir up fears about the Rohingya, who they often referred to as "Bengali terrorists" or "Bengali illegal immigrants".

The team cited a "conservative" estimate from aid group Reporters Without Borders that some 10,000 people were killed in the violence, but outside investigators have had no access to the affected regions - making a precise accounting elusive, if not impossible.

The call prompted Facebook, which has been criticised for allowing hate speech against the Rohingya to flourish, to ban the army chief and remove other pages tied to the country's military.

In September 2017, U.N. Human Rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein called the situation in Myanmar a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing", condemning the government's lack of response and calling on them to "stop claiming the Rohingyas are setting fire to their own homes and laying waste to their own villages".

The UN recommendation for genocide charges cited evidence like this.

"We want to prevent them from using our service to further inflame ethnic and religious tensions", the company said in its statement.

Myanmar never permitted the United Nations investigators access to the country, but they said that during their investigation they had interviewed 857 victims and eyewitnesses, and had used satellite imagery and authenticated documents, photographs and videos as a basis to reach their conclusions.

The mission also said that to expect justice from a domestic investigation in Myanmar is "simply naive, there is no accountability and there is no impartiality".

Facebook said Monday that it is banning Myanmar's powerful military chief, Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, and 19 other individuals and organizations from its site to prevent the spread of hate and misinformation.

In the meantime, the report's findings will likely increase the pressure on Myanmar and its armed forces, which continue to control the political system after formally ending a almost half-century dictatorship in 2011.

"It's not easy to do, but the fact the report is so clear, I think puts pressure on everybody to deal with the extent of the problem", Rae said.

But the claims were undercut by a police witness who said his superior had ordered a set-up and by arguments that the allegedly secret documents had been published in state media.


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