Over 4300 barred by pre­vi­ous govt black­list

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - PYAE THET PHYO – Ad­di­tional re­port­ing by Ye Mon, trans­la­tion by Thiri Min Htun pyae­thet­phyo@mm­times.com

The im­mi­gra­tion min­is­ter re­vealed yes­ter­day that 443 Myan­mar cit­i­zens and 3937 for­eign­ers were on the “no en­try” list in­her­ited by the NLD, which pledged to trim the tally.

OVER 4300 peo­ple, mostly for­eign­ers, were enu­mer­ated on the black­list main­tained by the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment, the Min­is­ter for Labour, Im­mi­gra­tion and Pop­u­la­tion re­vealed yes­ter­day.

Since an­nounc­ing it would pri­ori­tise help­ing po­lit­i­cal ex­iles re­turn home in June, the Na­tional League for Democ­racy has been scratch­ing names off the cat­a­logue of un­de­sir­ables, min­is­ter U Thein Swe added.

A to­tal of 619 peo­ple – 248 Myan­mar cit­i­zens and 371 for­eign­ers – have so far been re­moved from the “no en­try” list.

“Par­tic­u­larly, all peo­ple for­merly in­cluded in the black­list on po­lit­i­cal grounds have been re­moved,” U Thein Swe said at a press con­fer­ence held yes­ter­day even­ing in the cap­i­tal.

“Af­ter dis­cus­sions with 15 min­is­ters, 619 names have been re­moved.”

The min­istry has not pub­licly dis­closed the names of those enu­mer­ated on the black­list, and told The Myan­mar Times there was no plan to do so as it could neg­a­tively im­pact in­di­vid­u­als’ pri­vacy.

The min­is­ter did how­ever yes­ter­day an­nounce that 4380 peo­ple – 443 Myan­mar na­tion­als and 3937 for­eign na­tion­als – were in­cluded on the black­list by the for­mer gov­ern­ment.

“Most for­eign­ers re­main on the black­list be­cause the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity asked us to in­clude them as they are im­pli­cated in ter­ror­ism cases, cross-bor­der crim­i­nal cases or drug cases,” U Thein Swe said.

He added that the gov­ern­ment min­istries will ar­range for the re­moval of the Myan­mar cit­i­zens who re­main on the black­list as soon as pos­si­ble.

“Sim­i­larly, for for­eign busi­ness­peo­ple and those who are mar­ried to a Myan­mar ci­ti­zen, we have a plan to re­move them from the black­list,” he said.

The long list of un­de­sir­ables was com­posed by suc­ces­sive mil­i­tary regimes, which forced many cit­i­zens into ex­ile, pri­mar­ily tak­ing up res­i­dence in the United States, Aus­tralia or Europe. The gov­ern­ment of U Thein Sein scrubbed nearly 2000 names from the black­list in 2012, in­clud­ing politi­cians, for­eign jour­nal­ists, pro-democ­racy ac­tivists and armed group lead­ers. It was not known at the time how many fur­ther names re­mained on the in­ven­tory.

Even af­ter names are re­moved from the list, some dis­si­dents have en­coun­tered con­tin­ued dis­crim­i­na­tion how­ever, in­clud­ing visa rejections, or be­ing forced to sign pledges that they would give up pol­i­tics, or for­feit per­ma­nent res­i­dence el­i­gi­bil­ity.

In ad­di­tion the black­list, 4800 pass­port num­bers that have been re­ported as miss­ing or de­stroyed are also enu­mer­ated on an of­fi­cial no-en­try list, U Thein Swe said.

“The pass­ports re­ported as miss­ing or de­stroyed might have been coun­ter­feited by some­one. So these pass­port hold­ers are in­cluded on a black­list to avoid peo­ple en­ter­ing the coun­try on a coun­ter­feit pass­port,” he said.

For those with a crim­i­nal record enu­mer­ated on the black­list, in­clud­ing both for­eign­ers and Myan­mar na­tion­als, they will be re­moved on a case-by­case ba­sis, de­pend­ing on the scale of the of­fence com­mit­ted, the min­is­ter told The Myan­mar Times.

“We will set a time­frame for re­mov­ing them from the black­list de­pend­ing on the sever­ity of the crime they com­mit­ted. Other coun­tries do sim­i­larly,” he said.

It was also an­nounced yes­ter­day that af­ter a per­sonal in­ter­ven­tion by the state coun­sel­lor, de­ported 88 Gen­er­a­tion teacher U Maung Maung One was dropped from the watch­list yes­ter­day.

U Maung Maung One, a po­lit­i­cal dis­si­dent in ex­ile in the US, ob­tained a visa to visit Myan­mar and ar­rived in the coun­try on Au­gust 1. He was im­me­di­ately de­tained by air­port po­lice forces and, not long af­ter­ward, de­ported.

Deputy di­rec­tor gen­eral of the Pres­i­dent’s Of­fice U Zaw Htay said that the state coun­sel­lor had in­structed the rel­e­vant of­fi­cials that the 88 Gen­er­a­tion fig­ure should be per­mit­ted to enter the coun­try. He added that there had been a “mis­un­der­stand­ing” that led to the de­por­ta­tion.

“The Min­istry of Im­mi­gra­tion and the Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs are in the process of re­mov­ing names from the black­list. It was just a mis­un­der­stand­ing,” he said.

U Maung Maung One said on so­cial me­dia yes­ter­day that af­ter two backto-back in­ter­na­tional flights around the globe, he will take some time to rest be­fore at­tempt­ing the jour­ney to Myan­mar again.

“Now, I’m in New York. And I will not be com­ing back [to Myan­mar] im­me­di­ately,” the English teacher said in a Face­book post yes­ter­day.

Photo: EPA

Vis­i­tors fill out ap­pli­ca­tions for a visa at the im­mi­gra­tion counter of Yangon In­ter­na­tional Air­port.

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