Online petition urges Facebook to probe censorship of Kashmir posts
“None of the posts removed have violated Facebook’s community standards of hate speech or incitement to violence but have only portrayed the violence being perpetrated against the Kashmiri people,” the petition states.
A curfew in the region has extended into its 15th day following unrest that has left scores of protesters dead.
Facebook users posting on the violence in Kashmir in Britain, the US, India and Pakistan have complained that their posts had been removed or their profiles permanently deleted by the Silicon Valley giant citing “violation of community standards”.
Wide-scale protests against Indian rule have flared across the Muslim-majority territory since the killing on July 8 of popular commander Burhan Wani in a gunfight with Indian forces.
Professor Huma Dar, a Kashmiri-origin academic at the University of California Berkeley, said her profile was permanently disabled after she posted photos of Wani and a video of his funeral attended by tens of thousands of mourners.
“We will not reactivate it for any reason,” Dar said Facebook informed her.
— Huma Dar (@baalegibreel) July 22, 2016
Professor Dibyesh Anand of London’s Westminster University said his posts about the actions of Indian security forces, which have drawn criticism for their heavy-handed tactics, were removed twice.
“They (Facebook) apologised. But they blocked a second time within a day, again for 24 hours for a mild post,” Anand said.
— Dibyesh Anand (@dibyeshanand) July 15, 2016
“When a conspicuous number of posts relating to Indian state violence in Kashmir gets removed by Facebook and profiles of academics and writers blocked, it is clear that there is censorship,” Anand said.
More than 3,000 people, hundreds of them police officers, have been injured in the clashes, overwhelming hospitals in the region’s main city of Srinagar.
Indian authorities have imposed a curfew, suspended mobile networks and the internet in large parts of the territory and seized newspapers in a bid to quell protests.
US-based social activist Mary Scully said her posts were also removed on more than one occasion, citing community standards.
She and Anand along with others have started the petition urging Facebook to investigate. However, Facebook did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Pakistani actor Hamza Ali Abbasi’s Facebook account was also deactivated for sharing a post on Kashmir.
— Hamza Ali Abbasi (@iamhamzaabbasi) July 18, 2016
According to Facebook data, India ranks second only to the US for the number of requests for user data and content restriction made every year to the company.
Residents of Indian Kashmir have regularly complained of Facebook removing their posts since 2010 when large protests roiled the territory.
“My account was permanently disabled when I posted a video of Indian paramilitaries ransacking a hospital,” said Kashmir valley resident Rayees Rasool.
Burhan Wani was the leader of Hizbul Mujahideen group demanding independence or a merger of the territory with Pakistan.
Both India and Pakistan claim in full the Himalayan territory that it has been divided between the two since their independence from British rule in 1947.