Angelina Jolie


It's fine for Angelina Jolie to visit Asia's poor, downtrodden masses. Just don't dare try to tell Thailand what to do with them.

At least that's the view of a senior Thai diplomat who is castigating the Mighty Heart star for speaking out about the plight of a certain group of Muslim refugees who've fled there in recent years to escape the violent regime in Myanmar, otherwise known as Burma.

In her capacity as a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador, Jolie last week visited refugee camps along the Thai-Burmese border, where the Rohingya, or so-called Boat People, had sought refuge from Myanmar's military junta, which has deprived the group of citizenship in their own country.

The outspoken 33-year-old Oscar nominee then called on the Thai government to respect the Rohingya's human rights and take better care of the ethnic minority.

But while Jolie's presence was welcomed in the country, her opinions weren't.

"We must warn UNHCR [United Nations High Commission for Refugees, which Jolie represents] that they should not comment on the matter, because they have no mandate," Virasakdi Futrakul, the permanent secretary of the Thai Foreign Ministry, told reporters, according to Agence France-Presse.

The official claimed Jolie was supposed to tour a different camp containing a less-controversial Burmese minority, the Karenni, and not visit the Rohingya.

"The Thai government will issue a reprimand letter to UNHCR, asking why it allowed Angelina Jolie to visit the refugee camps," Futrakul said.

The Rohingya have been flooding Thailand in recent years, with many arriving by boat only to be pulled back out to sea by the Thai navy.

A spokeswoman for the UNHCR, Kitt McKinsey, declined to comment except to note that Jolie simply had the best interests of the Rohingya at heart.

"She expressed the hope that the human rights of the Rohingya people will be respected," he said, "just as the human rights of everyone in the world should be respected."

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