Does Any Celebrity Amplify Cry of Rohingya?

Photo Credit: VOA-News Asia

Actor Matt Dillon has visited a Rohingya displaced persons camp at a critical time just when the Myanmar government/military was blocking access to international media. The recent migrant crisis in Southeast Asia is only the most recent manifestation what the UN has labelled for some time, the Rohingya as “the most persecuted people in the world.”  During this period there have been killings, ethnic cleansing, denial of citizenship and fundamental rights as well as a prolonged exodus delivering suffering, death, human trafficking and boat loads of desperate refugees.

During this tenure, democratic governments and authoritarian regimes have embraced the “progress” toward democracy in Myanmar while at best providing lip service to the deliberate targeting of the Rohingya, and other minorities. This is despite the more than clear evidence and alerts provided by the most prominent human rights institutions and media, including CNN and BBC. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation, “OIC”, has engaged in some humanitarian and political efforts but frankly the result has been inadequate, and the question must be raised why more is not more done to highlight the genocidal campaign and policies directed against the largely Muslim Rohingya and other minorities. The explanation may be in the rush to exploit Myanmar’s rich resources and large potential market, from Beijing to western companies.  However, how is it that Aung San Suu Kyi is celebrated from celebrities as my old friend Bono to the Nobel Peace Prize even as she has been less than forthcoming in regards to the systematic campaign of grave violations of international humanitarian law directed at the Rohingya and others?  (Read:  “Aung San Suu Kyi–Silence to Genocide?” )

The Myanmar story somehow does not appear to run to Hollywood script and broadly embraced stereotypes. In Myanmar, the military authoritarian regime has not been replaced but has only aligned itself with the virulent rise of a fascist movement, led by blatant incitement from Buddhist monk Saydaw Wirathu and his “969” movement. On the other hand, a largely Muslim minority is the victim, contrary to recent stereotypes, cliches and generalizations. Many/most mainstream Buddhist organizations have condemned this new hate promoted manifestation of their philosophy/religion as have most Muslims spoken out and sought to confront the rise of ISIS and its hateful mutation of ideology and violence.  (Read: “Confronting ISIS – Is Rule of Law & Democracy Part of Coalition?“)


The US Holocaust Memorial Museum has also recently launched an alert that the Rohingya were at risk of genocide. However, again, there has been a vacuum of celebrity focus on the Rohingya or the reinvention of the Myanmar military junta aligned with religious fascism. The recent murder of a journalist by the Burmese military and the exoneration of the military killers only highlights the lack of decisive progress in the transformation to a state respecting rule of law, independent media, human rights or functional democracy – during this period that some have sought to characterize as progress, the Myanmar government has been adopting regressive laws/codes including such that ban relationships between Buddhists and Muslims.

Matt Dillon’s stepping into the vacuum therefore is more than ever welcome as means to bring more attention to the desperate plight of the Rohingya, but also to emphasize that human rights are for all and a concern for all of us as global citizens when others are abused, especially with apparent impunity. Along with Angelina Jolie, who has ventured to address the vulnerability and cause of refugees/displaced persons from Latin America, Asia, Africa and Europe, (Read : “Angelina Jolie Speaks to UN Security Council“) , Matt Dillon deserves our recognition for rising to the designation of “Diplomat-Artist” in raising the voice of those who are still inadequately heard by us. (LINK to Voice of America Story & Photo “Actor Matt Dillon Puts Rare Celebrity Spotlight on Rohingya“)

Also Read more at Diplomat-Artist: “Cultural Ethnic Cleansing

Ambassador Muhamed Sacirbey




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