‘The limits of my language are the limit of my world’, states the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. Whether and how crises are addressed frames perception. In the past, the media created overwhelming moral imperatives in several conflicts, which in some cases legitimised humanitarian or even military interventions.
Within Myanmar, where majority Burmese have deep prejudices against Muslims, the Rohingya are dehumanised to the extent that even horrific crimes against them fail to generate public or official sympathy. The use of national media for hate purposes often trumps the more humane voice of international media. In Europe today the labelling of migrants and refugees as a threat has led to new policy measures. In some cases, NGOs have been criminalized for providing humanitarian aid to refugees. This discriminatory sentiment at times is strengthened by traditional news media as well as by social media – based on selective facts or sometimes without a basis in fact at all.
What are the consequences of such narratives – and what does it mean for humanitarian actors?
Main Ceremonial Chamber / Großer Festsaal