Some of the 300 demonstrators arrested by policemen and soldiers lie on a pavement at Tak Bai police station in Narathiwat outhern Thailand, 25 October 2004. (AFP / Str)

AFP photo of detained Thai protesters in 2004 recirculates in misleading posts about 'Myanmar Muslims'

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A photo of a group of people surrounded by men wearing military fatigues has been shared tens of thousands of times on Facebook since January 2020 in posts that call for readers to pray for the safety of Muslims in Myanmar. The photo has continued to circulate online alongside a similar claim following a military coup in Myanmar in February 2021. The photo, however, has been shared in a misleading context: it actually shows protesters arrested by police in southern Thailand in 2004.

The photo was published on Facebook here on January 13, 2020. The post has been shared more than 87,000 times.

The post’s Urdu-language caption translates to English as: “O Allah, help the Muslims of Burma [Myanmar]. Say Amen and share the post. May Allah reward you”.

The Urdu text superimposed below the photo translates as: “Just one minute for the Muslims of Burma. O Allah, help the Muslims of Burma. Write Amen and share”.

Screenshot of the misleading post on Facebook. Taken on 19th February 2021.

The post circulated online after a 2017 military crackdown on Myanmar's Rohingya community that razed entire villages and sent around 750,000 people fleeing across the border into Bangladesh. 

Following a military coup in Myanmar in February 2021, the image circulated alongside similar captions on Facebook here, here, here, and here.

AFP reported here on February 13, 2021 that Myanmar's Rohingya community were living in fear after a return to military rule.

The photo, however, has been shared in a misleading context.

A reverse image search found image shows protesters arrested in Thailand in October 2004. It was published by AFP here.

The photo’s caption reads: “Some of the 300 demonstrators arrested by policemen and soldiers lie on a pavement at Tak Bai police station in Narathiwat [s]outhern Thailand, 25 October 2004. Dozens of people were injured in clashes between Thai security forces and hundreds of protesters who tried to storm a police station in Thailand's troubled Muslim-majority south, officials said Monday.”

Below is a screenshot comparison of the photo in the misleading posts (L) and the AFP photo (R):

Comparison of the photo in the misleading posts (L) and the photo from AFP (R)

The photo was taken after the Tak Bai massacre, which is remembered as one of the deadliest days in the rebellion by Malay-Muslims against the rule of the Thai state. Thailand colonised the southern provinces bordering Malaysia over a century ago, as AFP reported here.

Myanmar Military Coup