The misery of displaced persons and refugees is too frequently created by conflict. Too often the civilians themselves are the targets of ethnic cleansing and genocide. Humanitarian efforts may be desperately needed to aid the victims, but without proper remedy of peace, efforts to feed and care may prove to be no more effective than a band-aid on a deep cut that keeps getting slit and continues to bleed.
Myanmar has been redefined by some in diplomacy and the media as a state progressing away from authoritarian military rule toward democracy. However, by the look of the state of affairs of minorities, from the Rohingya to the Kachin, the new image is even a poor band-aid. The military junta remains in power retaining an absolute veto over any real reform. Worse, the junta seems to have unleashed to forces of ethnic and religious chauvinism which perpetrates persecution, killings and ethnic cleansing against minorities and thus allows the perpetuation of authoritarianism with an ever more fascist twist.
In this environment, Angelina Jolie visited refugees in Myanmar’s Kachin state, the site of a long simmering conflict by another minority, the mostly Christian Kachin. While Myanmar has been lauded by some for its purported progress, the human rights situation within the country along with the embedded military junta remains unchanged. Unfortunately, even the democratic opposition has been equivical or at least afraid of losing votes if it stands-up to the rise of a religious chauvinist campaign led by an extreme Buddhist monk and his incitement. (Read: “Aung San Suu Kyi Silence to Genocide“.)
In April of this year, Angelina Jolie spoke to the UN Security Council (UNSC) after several investigative visits to refugee camps surrounding the Syrian conflict. Jolie placed responsibility upon the UN Security Council for failing to confront the conflict effectively along with the warring factions, from the Assad Regime to the ultra-extremist ISIS. While an actress and film producer may appear out of her role in diplomacy or particularly assessing political accountability, Jolie has proven herself adept in such circumstances, and, most critically, celebrity of a “Diplomat-Artist” may be needed to counter the narrative that powerful capitals and UNSC Permanent 5 members seek to impose upon the media and global opinion particularly if the issue is their ineptitude or lack of will. (See: “Angelina Jolie Speaks to UN Security Council.”)
The ethnic cleansing and consequent migration of the Rohingya minority for a few weeks brought attention to the plight of another victimized minority of Myanmar. They have been targeted for several decades under the military junta but their plight has become ever more dire within the last decade as both the ethnic/religious virolic and violence have reached new extremes. Most of the focus was on the dire and life threatening conditions of the Rohingya families once they were cast upon the seas. Some came to be further exploited by human traffickers in neighboring countries. American actor Matt Damon became the Diplomat-Actor who spoke on behalf of the Rohingya. (See: “Does any Celebrity Amplify Cry of Rohingya?“) Nonetheless, again it is worth reminding that underlying the plight of refugees is in too many cases a disregard or worse of the human rights of those who flee.
Read more of Angelina Jolie in Kachin:
Read more of work of Diplomat-Artists at Category Archives: “Cultural Diplomacy.”)