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Twitter CEO slammed for Myanmar tourism support; is it fair?

The chief executive of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, has been called “tone deaf” after throwing his support behind Myanmar as a tourist destination, despite a humanitarian crises enveloping the nation. 


The billionaire CEO recently travelled to the Southeast Asian nation on a meditation retreat for his birthday, during which time he tweeted images of his experience along with a blurb that labelled Myanmar “an absolutely beautiful country”. 


Image Anushree Fadnavis/Reuters


“The people are full of joy and the food is amazing. I visited the cities of Yangon, Mandalay, and Bagan. We visited and meditated at many monasteries around the country,” he tweeted. He later added, “if you're willing to travel a bit, go to Myanmar".


But with 700,000 Rohingya Muslims recently displaced by a Myanmar military operation, in what UN human rights official Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein labelled "textbook ethnic cleansing", many have accused the Twitter co-founder of insensitivity, SBS reported.


“I’m not sure if there’s a level of ignorance—even reckless willful ignorance—that could explain this? Is there literally nobody at Twitter or within Jack’s “people” that could point out tourism in Myanmar is morally questionable rn, ESPECIALLY if you run a social platform?” Twitterer @ejbeals said. 


As a result of the outrage, Dorsey was forced to defend his actions in a number of follow-up tweets.


“This was a purely personal trip for me focused on only one dimension: meditation practice,” said Dorsey who goes by the username @Jack.


“I’m aware of the human rights atrocities and suffering in Myanmar. I don’t view visiting, practicing, or talking with the people, as endorsement. I didn’t intend to diminish by not raising the issue, but could have acknowledged that I don’t know enough and need to learn more.”



With this in mind, is it entirely unreasonable to support any form of travel to a country whose authority’s actions are at the time incompatible with widespread sentiment and values? 


In 2015, there was a significant call to boycott travel to Bali because of the execution of a pair of Australian drug carriers, despite other popular tourist destinations practicing capital punishment. 


The situation in Myanmar is obviously on a far larger scale, but does that justify a total boycott of the country, and of potential support to some who might really need it?


We’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic.


Written by: Mark Harada
Published: 12 December 2018

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