Horrifying videos showing a man using an electronic device to torture a toddler have been circulating on social media over the past few days. Several media sources as well as many social media users claimed that the video showed a “Rohingya Muslim child” being tortured by a “Buddhist” in Burma. However, in reality, this awful scene took place in Cambodia, not Burma, and the victim isn’t Rohingya.
France 24 decided to only use blurred screen grabs of the videos. The footage shows a man, crouching on the floor, who extends a device like a taser towards a tiny child. The toddler screams. The man also tries to put something in the child’s mouth. He then grabs the little boy’s hair and shakes the child’s head before tying a blindfold over his eyes.
Since Tuesday, this footage has been widely shared online, especially by several Arabic-language media, which claimed that the little boy is Rohingya, a persecuted Muslim minority in Burma, where the majority of the country is Buddhist. Most Rohingya people live in Arakan state in western Burma.
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The Saudi website "No rumors", which specialises in debunking false information quickly identified the real source of this footage. The video was published earlier this week by the daily English-language newspaper “The Cambodia Daily” in an article called “Child Torture videos lead to three arrests”.
According to this daily newspaper, the Cambodian police launched an investigation after these videos were published online. On Tuesday, they arrested three people in Kompong Cham province. One suspect is a Dutchman who owns a plantation in Mondolkiri province in eastern Cambodia. Two Cambodians who work who him were also arrested. Police are still searching for a fourth suspect, a Vietnamese national who is thought to have tortured the child on camera.
Police confirmed that the incident occurred at the Dutchman's plantation. The child’s mother was his employee. She told police that the boy had also likely been raped.
The incident has received wide coverage on Vietnamese television.
While the Rohingya people are victims of real persecution in Burma, a lot of false information about the crimes committed against them circulates online. Last June, another video showing a child being tortured was widely shared as proof of further abuse against the Rohingya people. However, the video turned out to have been filmed in China.