NAYPYITAW — Harn Yawnghwe, an influential figure and son of Myanmar’s first President Sao Shwe Thaike, was not blacklisted by the Myanmar government but instead has had his visa changed from multiple-entry to social, presidential spokesperson U Zaw Htay told the press on Wednesday evening.
“U Harn Yawnghwe can enter Myanmar anytime, but with a social visa. We’ve informed the [concerned] embassies,” said U Zaw Htay.
Harn Yawnghwe, who holds a Canadian passport, is the executive director of the Brussels-based Euro-Burma Office (EBO), an organization that provides funding to ethnic and civil society organizations.
The previous government issued him a multiple-entry visa because of his active role in the country’s peace process, but he is not participating in the peace process under the new government, said U Zaw Htay.
“The new government has not signed any agreement or contract with EBO regarding the peace process. And he does not cooperate with the current government on the country’s peace process. We have not denied him a visa; he will just be on a different visa than he was in the past,” U Zaw Htay told reporters.
There were rumors in the second week of June that Harn Yawnghwe had been blacklisted by the Myanmar government, which close friends of his confirmed.
“We have informed him about his visa. But rumors spread in the media and the government has been widely criticized for this. This has impacted the peace process so we wanted to explain,” said U Zaw Htay.
Harn Yawnghwe is an ethnic Shan from Myanmar who has played a major role supporting and advising ethnic armed organizations both in exile and inside the country for decades. Due to his influential role in ethnic affairs, critics claim his involvement is controversial. Some criticize him for dividing the unity of ethnic armed groups.
Established in 1997, the EBO has been one of the main donors to Myanmar’s democracy movement. In 2011, it was permitted to open a branch office in the country.