This working paper was commissioned by ARTICLE 19 in order to better understand the root causes and dynamics of ‘hate speech’ and intolerance in Myanmar. It was researched and written by independent researchers Thant Sin Oo, Zaw Myo Min, and Matt Schissler. The research contributes to Voices for Inclusion, a multi-year project funded by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs to combat intolerance, stigmatization, discrimination and incitement to violence in Malaysia and Myanmar.
“Hate speech” or “dangerous speech,” as labelled by observers, has received much attention and concern in Myanmar over the last eight years. This research began from the axiom that approaches to such phenomena need to be informed by the ways people in Myanmar are already working to manage them. Identifying the strategies that people are using to avoid, reduce, or contest “hate speech” may suggest areas to support or build upon with campaigns and other activities, for example. These strategies are sometimes referred to as “counter-speech.” At the same time, better understanding counter-speech may also highlight obstacles that such efforts to offer support should account for, but which may currently not be noticed.
The paper discusses findings related to the structure of interactions on Facebook and how these may influence counter-speech on the platform. It presents some vocabularies of counter-speech that the research encountered. The paper then concludes with an Annex of examples drawn from the research material, in order to support further research and concrete reflection.