Monday, June 1, 2015

Matt Dillon: Our Hero, and currently the Rohingya’s best friend

Today’s media outlets are buzzing with news that Matt Dillon visited Myanmar’s Rakhine state and sent a blistering commentary—to the world, thanks to his celebrity status-- on the state of the Rohingya both in the camps and fleeing as refugees.

"No one should have to live like this, people are really suffering," said Dillon, one of the first celebrities to get a look at what life is like for Rohingya in the western state of Rakhine. "They are being strangled slowly, they have no hope for the future and nowhere to go."

"A lot of people are suffering," he said. "I'm really glad I had a chance to come, to see for myself what's happening here."

Although there is a short video that accompanies his visit, it’s apparent he did not do this as a publicity stunt for himself, but carefully used his status to, as the AP reported “put a rare celebrity spotlight” directly on where it should be: the brutal treatment of the Rohingya by Myanmar.

"I know [genocide]'s a very touchy word to use," said Dillon. "But there's a very ominous feeling here."

See the short clip here:

Although this was maybe Mr. Dillon’s first public advocacy of the Rohingya specifically, it is not his first foray into human rights advocacy; in early May he was Master of Ceremonies, along with Queen Nur of Jordan, at the Refugees International fundraiser, where he was implored by a Rohingya in attendance to help other Rohingya fleeing Myanmar or languishing in their camps.

RI's star-studded gala dinner raises $750,000 to alleviate worldwide refugee crisis
Diplomatic Pouch / May 7, 2015

At the event, the Richard C. Holbrooke Leadership Award went to Rohingya activist Tun Khin, who was born in Burma but now lives in London. “Myanmar passed a law in 2002 excluding Rohingyas as a legitimate minority population and made Tun Khin and almost a million of his fellow Rohingyas an illegitimate community unable to claim Myanmar citizenship. . . . The brutal treatment of the Rohingyas is a terrible stain on Myanmar, a country we hear so much good news about. Many of us were deluded into thinking that all was well in Myanmar. Well, it’s a long way from becoming a humane and just society. Tun Khin’s presence tonight is a reminder to all of us that we can’t call a victory in Myanmar and leave the scene. We have to stay engaged until there are no more people living in these concentration camps.”

So Matt Dillon, Our Hero, decided to do something about it.

While he’s in Southeast Asia we hope he finds time to come to Aceh where, although conditions are still grim, the Rohingya are treated humanely and with dignity.
Junaidi and I wrote to his manager and his agent, asking them to thank him for us.  He is a blessing.
If a small Acehnese livelihoods agency could start a fan club, we would.

Who needs Angelina Jolie?

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