Patriotic internet users in Myanmar have rushed to defend Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, whose tweets following a visit to the “beautiful” country drew global scorn for failing to mention the persecution of Rohingya Muslims.
Dorsey posted a series of gushing tweets on Sunday following a 10-day silent meditation retreat at a monastery near Mandalay, praising the country’s food, people and natural beauty.
But he did not mention the plight of the persecuted Rohingya, 720,000 of whom have fled a military crackdown in the last few years that has been called a genocide by UN investigators.
Twitter lit up with outrage as Dorsey found himself pilloried on his own platform for being “tone-deaf” and “clueless” in his tweets.
But in Myanmar – where the plight of the Rohingya does not draw much sympathy – internet users leapt to the defence of the Silicon Valley billionaire.
“Many western people say they love democracy but they don’t respect someone’s inner peace,” Aung Aung posted on Facebook, which is far more popular in Myanmar than Twitter.
“We want to explain about ourselves to the world but we can’t,” another user Wunna posted.
“Now the CEO of Twitter has explained it… we feel proud,” he added.
Tourism is a crucial source of income in the former military-ruled nation and has seen steadily rising numbers of visitors since the country started opening up in 2011, peaking at a total of 3.4 million last year.
Industry insiders say the increasing number of regional tourists is helping to compensate for the major drop in western visitors since the Rohingya crisis, but revenues are down.
Some experts have warned against boycotting the country, which was sealed off for decades by the former junta to all but the hardiest of travellers.
Visitors staying away for ethical reasons could always donate their money instead, Vicky Bowman from the Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business pointed out.
“I hope they will put their holiday budget towards humanitarian relief for refugees in Bangladesh and northern Myanmar,” she told AFP.
Dorsey has yet to respond to the criticism.
It is not the first foot-in-mouth moment for the travelling tech mogul.
While 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”.