Yawnghwe Office in Exile

For immediate release

I regret to inform you that I am withdrawing from your exhibition, Everyday Justice, an exhibition of artwork, films and stories that opens on the 15th November 2019, Yangon, Myanmar.

My reason being that it is an EU founded project. The statement reads “working to improve justice for the poor and vulnerable” when the EU has consistently failed to take any action in light of well documented allegations of war crimes in Burma, especially in Arakan, Shan and Kachin States. How can the EU do what they do and then back something with a theme like this? Hypocrisy, pure and simple.

There is a bitter twist to modern Burmese history that an EU ambassador is renting a house owned by a dead dictator who killed my grandfather. That a Western diplomat thinks it’s acceptable to rent the Ady Road property owned by former dictator General Ne Win’s family illustrates the moral and ahistorical vacuum the EU enjoys. My grandfather, Burma‘s first President Sao Shwe Thaik was murdered in prison soon after Ne Win seized power in 1962, and accelerated a downward spiral of repression, poverty and brutal war on Burma’s people.

The EU also rents office space from a notorious crony company called Asia World, a business consortium built on drug money and plunder named in the recent United Nations Fact Finding Mission (FFM) report, and builds roads in Arakan State to cover up crimes against the Rohingya perpetrated just two years ago. It is also worth noting that the EU is handing over tens of millions of Euro’s direct budgetary support to the NLD government. The EU continues to lavish more money in support of a flawed and corrupt peace process while civilians continue to be targeted by the Tatmadaw. Is this an EU business model in Burma?

Part of the reason I am withdrawing is that in October 2019, I saw a photograph of the EU Ambassador Kristian Schmidt at a second anniversary event of the government formed Union Enterprise for Humanitarian Relief and Development (UEHRD). Is EU ambassador Kristian Schmidt part of a cover-up of the Rohingya massacre and Burmese military war crimes in Arakan State? The EU sponsored the formation of the UN Fact Finding Mission. The FFM report said that military business and cronies were putting money into the UEHRD. Question? Did the EU actually read the FFM report? If they did, was it something they took into account?

So it’s with disgust I see the very same EU Ambassador is opening an art show in which some of my works are featured, therefore I would like to withdraw my work from this exhibition. I do so with full respect for my fellow artists in Burma, and in recognition of the stellar work that the My Justice project has accomplished. In January of this year one of my works, Peace Industrial Complex III, was not displayed at a major exhibition of contemporary art at The Secretariat, due to concerns from the curator, the Goethe Institute, it could draw criticism from the Tatmadaw. From being censored then, I take action in light of EU hypocrisy now.
The EU’s message to the Tatmadaw and Aung San Suu Kyi is loud and clear: you guys got away with it. I want no part of this detestable exculpation of a criminal system that perpetrates crimes against humanity with utter impunity.

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