Exile Musician Denied Burmese Entry Visa

By Lin Thant 25 November 2014

Mun Awng, a musician who left Burma after the 1988 pro-democracy uprising and now resides in Norway, has had an entry visa application rejected by the Burmese Embassy in Bangkok.

“I applied for a visa with complete documentation in Bangkok. The visa section said I was rejected because of instructions from above,” Mun Awng told The Irrawaddy.

Mun Awng rose to national celebrity in the late 1980s with a string of albums before leaving Burma in the aftermath of the military’s crackdown on the pro-democracy movement.

The singer has recorded his latest album “Peace Raindrops” in the Thai city of Chiang Mai and plans to release it in Burma. Mun Awng told The Irrawaddy he wanted to entertain the audience he left 26 years ago.

“I am an artist. If I am given the chance, I would like to sing songs to my audience who I haven’t seen for 26 years. At the same time, I expected that we could be refused entry to Burma,” said Mun Awng.

Once the nominally civilian government took power in 2011, President Thein Sein invited all Burmese exiles to return to country on condition that they had not committed any crime, an overture which has not always been matched in practice.

The Burmese Embassy in Bangkok last month rejected an entry visa application by Cho Seint, a poet who has taken Norwegian nationality.

Cho Seint is the great-grandchild of Thakhin Kodaw Hmine, a respected Burmese writer who fought against British colonial rule during the country’s independence struggle.

Moe Thee Zun, a student leader during the 1988 uprising, was allowed to visit twice before a further visa application was rejected by the Burmese government. Moe Hein, another prominent student and founder of the Thuriya Naywun journal, remains on a blacklist along with his family members, including his five-year-old child.

“Though the Burma government said it is undertaking reforms, I see nothing to have changed, and I’m disappointed,” said Mun Awng.

The Irrawaddy sought comment from the Burmese Embassy’s visa section and the Burmese Ambassador to Thailand.

This article was edited on Dec. 2, 2014, to correct the transliteration of Mun Awng’s name.