Over 4300 barred by previous govt blacklist
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.
Visitors fill out applications for a visa at the immigration counter of Yangon International Airport.