By Shafiur Rahman | Substack | May 7, 2023

Trump’s account has been reinstated despite inciting hate & violence. In contrast, Dr. Zarni, a genocide whistleblower and campaigner for Rohingya genocide survivors, has been suspended.

Twitter’s  suspension of Dr Maung Zarni, a Burmese human rights activist and scholar, has  raised concerns about freedom of expression on social media platforms.

Dr Zarni’s suspension was based on his tweet drawing a comparison between the coronation of King Charles III and Nazi spectacles. The tweet highlighted the commonality of multiple genocides and other international crimes committed by both the British Empire and Hitler’s regime.

While some may argue that such a comparison is inappropriate or offensive, it is not the role of social media platforms to police speech and limit free expression. As a public forum, Twitter should allow for open and honest discussions, even when it involves uncomfortable or controversial topics.

Furthermore, Dr Zarni’s tweet was based on historical facts and evidence, which he believes should not be ignored or censored. His comparison between the British Empire and Nazi Germany, while provocative, highlights the ongoing impact of colonialism and imperialism on marginalised communities around the world.

In his response to Twitter, Dr Zarni defends his comparison between the British Empire and Nazi Germany by arguing that the difference between British-Euro Colonialisms and Nazism and other fascist regimes in Europe is only a matter of degree, not kind. He points out that the British Empire was built on the White Man’s TransAtlantic Slave Trade & Slavery of 400 years, involving 11 million victims and generations of African descent.  In addition, he notes that the British Empire committed inhumane colonial policies over centuries, including genocides such as the starvation of Bengalis and “Pacification of Burma” by policies made in Whitehall & 10 Downing Street. Dr Zarni believes that speaking truth and tweeting verified facts about these historical crimes does not break the rule of any community based on “principles of Justice, Truth, and Reconciliation.”

Silencing voices that speak truth to power and challenge dominant narratives only serves to reinforce the status quo and limit progress towards justice and equality.  As a society, we must be able to engage in difficult conversations and confront uncomfortable truths, even when they challenge our preconceived notions or beliefs.  As we continue to grapple with complex issues such as colonialism, imperialism, and human rights violations, we must be able to have open and honest discussions, even if they are uncomfortable or challenging. This is the cornerstone of a free and democratic society, and social media platforms should not be exempt from upholding and protecting the right to speak truth and share verified facts. Twitter and other platforms should be in the business of facilitating meaningful dialogue and engagement.

It is worth noting that Twitter recently reinstated Donald Trump’s account, despite his history of promoting hate and inciting violence. Trump has promoted hate through his rhetoric and actions, including his derogatory comments about women, immigrants, Muslims, and people of colour. He has frequently used racist and xenophobic language, such as referring to Mexican immigrants as “rapists” and “criminals” and calling for a ban on Muslim immigration.Overall, his actions and statements have contributed to a climate of hate and intolerance in the United States.

In contrast, Dr. Zarni, a genocide whistleblower, scholar, and campaigner for Rohingya genocide survivors, has been suspended for speaking truth to power and sharing verified facts about historical crimes committed by the British Empire. This raises important questions about the inconsistency and bias in social media platforms’ enforcement of their content policies, and highlights the need for a more consistent and transparent approach that upholds the principles of free expression and protects marginalised voices.

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