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Burmese journalists boycott UNFC conference

FILE PHOTO: Members of the United Nationalities Federal Council meet in Chiang Mai, Thailand, in April 2016. (Photo: DVB)

Burmese journalists in the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai today boycotted a United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) conference after the ethnic bloc barred reporters from entering the meeting room.

Kyaw Moe Thu, a senior reporter for The Irrawaddy, told DVB on Monday that the UNFC had earlier declared that delegates would not speak to journalists about the conference and that no member of the media would be allowed to enter the meeting room.

“We want our readers to know that we were barred from covering the final day of the conference,” said Kyaw Moe Thu.

“[It came about because] RFA [Radio Free Asia] reported about the resignations of the KIA [Kachin Independence Army], WNO [Wa National Organisation], TNLA [Ta’ang National Liberation Army] and MNDAA [Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army] from the UNFC,” said Kyaw Moe Thu. “They are always saying that they are working for the people, but they don’t want anyone to know what they are up to.”

Journalists in Chiang Mai from The Irrawaddy, RFA and Mizzima confirmed that they always cover UNFC meetings in the northern Thai capital, and that this is the first time they have been refused access.

DVB tried to get comments from members of UNFC, but could not reach them.

Following the recent resignation of the KIA and other members, the UNFC now consists of just five groups: the New Mon State Party (NMSP), the Shan State Progressive Party/Shan State Army-North (SSPP/SSA-N), the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP), the Lahu Democratic Union (LDU), and the Arakan National Council (ANC).

None of the UNFC members, including those who left the bloc earlier this month, has signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement with the government in Naypyidaw.