"Flower Speech" in Myanmar
Responding to rampant public calls to hate and even kill Muslims, a group of Myanmar activists, including former political prisoners, has started an ingenious campaign against dangerous speech. Their “Panzagar” (flower speech) campaign uses social media and public events to urge others to “watch what we say so that hate between mankind does not proliferate.” The Panzagar Facebook page obtained 9,000 likes in its first three weeks – quite an achievement in a small country where most people are not yet online. Panzagar’s symbol (and Internet meme) is a person holding a flower in his or her mouth, representing spreading peace through positive speech.
Susan Benesch reviews efforts to counter hateful speech online in the Berkman Center for Internet and Society's report Internet Monitor 2014: Reflections on the Digital World.
This book chapter examines the communications practices that developed in Myanmar under authoritarian rule; everyday narratives regarding Islam as they are currently produced by organized political forces and circulate online and through everyday life; and how increasing access to technology and new media might interact with these practices and narratives.
With Michael Abramowitz. Wall Street Journal, December 18, 2013.
A prominent local campaign combating hate speech has unveiled shareable Facebook stickers for the Myanmar market encouraging users not to “start fires” and to think before sharing.
The UN General Assembly has approved a non-binding resolution urging Myanmar to provide "full citizenship'' to its Rohingya Muslim minority and to allow them to move freely throughout the country.
Facebook is experimenting with new stickers and abuse reporting protocols to help address dangerous speech in Myanmar.
The world has grown accustomed to a gentle image of Buddhism…but over the past year, images of rampaging Burmese Buddhists carrying swords and the vituperative sermons of monks like Ashin Wirathu have underlined the rise of extreme Buddhism in Myanmar.