Sunday, August 2, 2015

Angelina Jolie's visit to Myanmar is a welcome sign but may not be enough

In a media-dominated world, popular actors and actresses can sometimes make a difference in the lives of a suffering group. Angelina Jolie is one such Hollywood icon who is also a UN representative. She is currently on a tour of Myanmar. She visited the Kachin State where the Kachin freedom fighters are fighting for their human rights and dignity against the brutal and savage Myanmar regime and government forces. There she urged authorities in Kachin State to enable displaced people to cast their votes. 
The actress met with Rohingya community representatives in Yangon on Friday, who spoke with her about the difficult conditions of life in Rakhine State. The Rohingya are a Muslim minority group who have suffered of waves of ethnic cleansing and genocidal violence and oppression since at least the mid-1970s. In 2012, two outbreaks of pogroms have left probably thousands dead and about 150,000 displaced. Many still remain in camps for internally displaced persons with deplorable, inhuman conditions. 

"The situation for the displaced inside this country is extremely serious," Jolie Pitt says in a statement to the PEOPLE magazine. 

Jolie Pitt tells PEOPLE, some of the population, such as the Rohingya community, will be barred from voting due to their unresolved citizenship. Yes, the Rohingya people of Myanmar, who mostly live in their ancestral homeland of Arakan (now called Rakhine state) are the most persecuted people on earth and are denied rights to citizenship, and hence voting. A devastating flood has also affected mostly Rohingya territories of Arakan, which are denied humanitarian aids simply because of their race and religion. 

The Rohingya people are more deserving of attention from the powerful media icons like Mrs. Jolie Pitt than anyone else in our planet that is increasingly becoming a theater of wanton violence and unspeakable suffering. 

I don't think Jolie is as vocal as some of her peers within the Hollywood have been in relation to South Sudan. Could she do what they did for South Sudan? 

No, the Rohingya people are not demanding secession, but only the right to be equal with others inside the den of intolerance and hatred called Myanmar, and to be able to live with dignity. If Jolie could achieve just those fundamental rights for the Rohingya people, they would ever be indebted to her.

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