Myanmar Actress’ Facebook Account ‘Hacked’ to Spread Religious Hate Speech

6:13 AM PST 07/23/2013 by Rosie Gogan-Keogh

The alleged hacking comes at a critical time for Myanmar, as the country's Buddhist sectarian movement has been blamed for a spate of violent attacks against Muslims.

A Myanmar actress has alleged that her Facebook account was hacked by an unknown group and used to spread racist and religious hate speech to her fans. The postings that appeared on the actress' account are said to have been remarks targeted against Myanmar's minority Muslim population. 

Khun Sint Nay Chi's allegations come at a critical time in Myanmar. Extremist Buddhist monk Wirathu, leader of the 969 sectarian movement, has garnered international attention for his series of YouTube videos, which have been blamed for inciting violence against Myanmar’s minority Muslims.

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Following the attack, the model-turned-singer who has starred in low-budget Burmese horror productions such as Milestone 26 and Milestone 76, warned fellow Myanmar celebrities to protect their accounts.

"No one can say Facebook accounts of other actors will not be hacked," she said at a press conference in Yangon. "They, including well-known businessmen, should do more to secure their accounts."

This is not the first time that online security has been an issue in Myanmar since the country began its process of democratic reform three years ago and Internet usage became less restricted.

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter in Yangon in early July, Thiha Tin Than, the film director behind the controversial drama Mar Yar Myar Tae Alin Kar (Scheme), said that he was "afraid" to use his personal e-mail and Facebook accounts, as he believed that they were being monitored by an unidentified party.

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Global "hacktivist" group Anonymous announced in May that it would be making the plight of Myanmar’s Muslims the focus of its next campaign. According to a report in U.K. newspaper The Independent, the group said that it was "very possible" that democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi would be a target.

In February this year, 12 Myanmar-based foreign correspondents and local journalists received a message from Google stating that their Gmail accounts may have been victim to a "state-sponsored attack."

At the time, Myanmar government spokesman Ye Htut denied any government involvement. "There is no state-sponsored attack on individual accounts," he said to the Associated Press. "That's not a policy of our government."
 

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