Twitter CEO defends controversial Myanmar tweets

Dorsey said he has been a long-time meditator and wanted to travel to Buddhist-majority Myanmar where Vipassana is practiced in its “original form.” (Shutterstock)
Updated 12 December 2018
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Twitter CEO defends controversial Myanmar tweets

  • Critics piled into the tech mogul for being “tone deaf” at a time when the UN has said Myanmar’s generals should be investigated for genocide
  • Dorsey said he has been a long-time meditator and wanted to travel to Buddhist-majority Myanmar where Vipassana is practiced in its “original form”

YANGON: Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey on Wednesday defended a series of tweets about his recent meditation retreat in Myanmar that were pilloried on his own platform for failing to mention the persecution of Rohingya Muslims.
Dorsey’s gushing thread on Sunday came after a 10-day silent Vipassana meditation retreat near Mandalay in which he praised the country’s food, beauty and its people, whom he said were “full of joy.”
The comments drew heat online for leaving out any discussion of atrocities committed against Myanmar’s Rohingya minority during a military crackdown last year that drove more than 720,000 people into Bangladesh camps.
Critics piled into the tech mogul for being “tone deaf” at a time when the UN has said Myanmar’s generals should be investigated for genocide.
In a series of tweets, Dorsey defended his actions but conceded he could have handled the situation better.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
Dorsey said he has been a long-time meditator and wanted to travel to Buddhist-majority Myanmar where Vipassana is practiced in its “original form.”
Twitter is not nearly as popular in Myanmar as Facebook, which has been accused of not doing enough to control hate speech that fueled anti-Rohingya and anti-Muslim sentiment.
But hate speech during the Rohingya crisis also spilled over onto the micro-messaging site, which is facing similar allegations over hosting toxic content in countries where it is more broadly used.
Dorsey batted away speculation that there was a business twist to the visit, saying he had no conversations with the government during his trip, and described the platform as a way to raise awareness about human rights issues.
“Twitter is a way for people to share news and information about events in Myanmar as well as to bear witness to the plight of the Rohingya and other peoples and communities,” he said.
It is not the first time the traveling tech whizz has stirred outrage online.
On a trip to India in November, Dorsey was accused of inciting hatred against the highest caste after he was photographed holding a poster declaring “smash Brahminical patriarchy.”


Freelance journalist killed amid new round of Libya clashes

Members of the Tripoli Protection Force, an alliance of militias from the capital city, patrol an area south of the Libyan capital on January 18, 2019, during clashes with the Seventh Brigade group from the town of Tarhuna. (AFP)
Updated 20 January 2019
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Freelance journalist killed amid new round of Libya clashes

  • Ben Khalifa, a photographer and video journalist, is survived by his wife and a 7-month-old daughter, another colleague said

BENGHAZI, Libya: A freelance journalist who contributed to The Associated Press and other news organizations was killed Saturday in the Libyan capital, a colleague said.
Mohamed Ben Khalifa, who was in his 30s, was hit by shrapnel while accompanying a militia patrolling the Qaser Bin Ghashir area south of Tripoli, said Hamza Turkia, also a freelance journalist.
The militia came under attack by another armed group, said Turkia. He said there was gunfire, and that a missile was also fired.
Ben Khalifa, a photographer and video journalist, is survived by his wife and a 7-month-old daughter, another colleague said.
A new round of fighting between rival militias erupted earlier this week, killing 13 people and wounding more than 50, according to the Libyan Health Ministry.
The clashes shattered a UN-brokered cease-fire reached in September. A bout of violence last year killed nearly 100 people.
The fighting between militias allied with Libya’s UN-backed government in Tripoli and an armed group from a nearby town underscores Libya’s lingering lawlessness since the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi.
The energy-rich North African nation is governed by rival authorities in Tripoli and the country’s east, each of which is backed by an array of militias.