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Twitter boss Jack Dorsey panned for ‘tone-deaf’ visit to Myanmar while ignoring plight of Rohingya

  • Some 700,000 Rohingya refugees fled Myanmar last year, with the country’s military accused of genocide against the ethnic group in Rakhine state
  • Dorsey told his 4 million followers he had travelled to northern Myanmar last month for a 10-day silent meditation retreat, before encouraging them to visit
PUBLISHED : Monday, 10 December, 2018, 3:10pm
UPDATED : Monday, 10 December, 2018, 3:10pm

The CEO of Twitter has faced fierce criticism for promoting Myanmar as a tourist destination in a series of tweets despite hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing human rights abuses that the UN says amounts to genocide in the country.

Jack Dorsey told his 4 million followers he had travelled to northern Myanmar last month for a 10-day silent meditation retreat, before encouraging them to visit.

“The people are full of joy and the food is amazing,” he said, before encouraging his followers to visit.

But critics accused him of being “tone-deaf” and ignoring the plight of the Muslim Rohingya minority.

Some 700,000 Rohingya refugees fled Myanmar last year, with the country’s military accused of genocide against the ethnic group in Rakhine state in a damning UN report that alleged the army was responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity against minorities across the country.

The UN mission found that the military was “killing indiscriminately, gang-raping women, assaulting children and burning entire villages” in Rakhine, home to the Muslim Rohingya, and in Shan and Kachin. The armed forces of Myanmar, known as the Tatmadaw, also carried out murders, imprisonments, enforced disappearances, torture, rapes and used sexual slavery and other forms of sexual violence, persecution and enslavement, while in northern Rakhine, the mission also found evidence of mass extermination and deportation.

Andrew Stroehlein, European media director of Human Rights Watch, tweeted: “I’m no expert on meditation, but is it supposed to make you so self-obsessed that you forget to mention you’re in a country where the military has committed mass killings & mass rape, forcing hundreds of thousands to flee, in one of today’s biggest humanitarian disasters?”

The people are full of joy and the food is amazing
Jack Dorsey, Twitter CEO

A Twitter user, Jeff Strabone‏, wrote: “People complain about how Twitter empowers Nazis. Now the head of Twitter boasts to the world about how he subsidises the genocidal regime in Burma?! Please, someone, make it stop.”

Mohammed Jamjoom, a correspondent for al-Jazeera who has interviewed Rohingya refugees, said Dorsey’s tweets had left him “utterly speechless”.

Some critics noted that social media platforms have played a role in the spreading of misinformation in the Rohingya crisis.

Last month, Facebook said it agreed with a report that found it failed to prevent its platform from being used to “incite offline violence” in Myanmar.

The New York Times reporter Liam Stack wrote: “The CEO of Twitter went on vacation to a country that committed a genocide last year that was fuelled by disinformation and hate spread by the government on social media.”

Last month the Twitter CEO found himself at the heart of another storm after he upset Hindu nationalists and some members of the Brahmin caste in India by posing for a picture with a placard reading: “Smash Brahminical patriarchy”.