Myanmar Government Removes More Than 600 Names From Official Blacklist

Myanmar academic Aung Thu Nyein, who fled a brutal crackdown on student protesters in 1988, is greeted by his mother upon his return to his homeland at Yangon international airport, Feb. 10, 2012.

The Myanmar government is removing names of more than 600 citizens and foreigners on an official “no-entry” black list, as one of the new civilian government’s 100-day reform programs as the country transitions to democracy, a government official said Wednesday.

“According to the 100-day project, we are going to reduce the numbers on the blacklist,” Thein Swe, minister of labor, immigration and population, told RFA’s Myanmar Service after a parliamentary meeting in the administrative capital Naypyidaw.

The government has so far removed the names of 619 persons, including 248 Myanmar nationals and 371 foreigners, he said, though he couldn’t give an exact number of how many names are still on the original blacklist.

Fifteen government ministries are working on cancelling names on the blacklist, he said.

Maung Maung One, a U.S. citizen and former 88 Generation student group member who was active in the pro-democracy protests of 1988, was removed from the list following discussions with the Ministry of Home Affairs, Thein Swe said.

The names of terrorists wanted by the international Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) and people who have committed crimes will not be removed, he said.

Open letter to Aung San Suu Kyi

About 60 representatives from more than 40 civil society organizations inside Myanmar sent an open letter to Aung San Suu Kyi on Monday, requesting the disclosure of the names of activists who remain on the blacklist, the online journal The Irrawaddy reported.

They also asked that the government establish guidelines to restore the original citizenship of exiled people and allow them to participate in Myanmar’s transition to democracy, the report said.

In May, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, headed by Aung San Suu Kyi, announced that it would allow those exiled under previous governments whose names were on the blacklist to return to Myanmar.

The military junta that ruled the country for 50 years until 2011 and the quasi-civilian government that followed had blacklisted people deemed political threats, forcing thousands of politicians, dissidents, students, former political prisoners, and pro-democracy activists into exile in East or Southeast Asian nations, the United States, Europe and Australia.

In 2012, former president Thein Sein’s administration removed about 2,000 names from the blacklist, said to have contained about 6,000 names at the time.

Reported by Win Ko Latt for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khet Mar. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.


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