We had a great crowd at a discussion hosted by US Ambassador to Myanmar Derek Mitchell and Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Tom Malinowski with civil society leaders during the assistant secretary’s recent visit to Myanmar.
During the exchange, the senior diplomats discussed the opportunities technology and access to information provide leaders in the new Myanmar. Ambassador Mitchell said technology “presents opportunities to network and learn about government” and for people to share new ideas to promote healthy communities.
Civil society leaders opened up about the challenges they face to combat racism and hatred, particularly on social media which has become a hotbed for hate speech in Myanmar as it has in other countries. One leader asked: how can the United States help address hate speech in Myanmar?
Ambassador Mitchell and Assistant Secretary Malinowski shared reflections on America’s experience combatting hatred and building trust in information in a new media environment. Ambassador Mitchell said it is imperative to overwhelm dangerous speech with positive speech and promote good ideas through creative partnerships with celebrities, and educators.
Assistant Secretary Malinowski noted the importance of establishing authoritative sources of information to get facts, rather than misinformation to people when there are multiple sources of infor
mation. The question is, Malinowski said: “how can we rebuild a new media environment that everyone will see as authoritative?”
The speakers were optimistic about the country’s future and encouraged the leaders to use technology to strengthen diversity and unity in communities across the country. The good thing, Assistant Secretary Malinowski said, is that “ we can never go back to a country where there is one newspaper.” He said, “people have the power” on their phones.
To learn more about the discussion, look up#ONEMYA on Twitter and Facebook.