Burma Releases Partial List of Names Trimmed from Blacklist

Posted August 31st, 2012 at 8:20 am (UTC-5)
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Burma this week said it would remove more than 2,000 people from a controversial government blacklist long used by the country's former military rulers to keep out critics, activists, and others deemed a threat.

On Thursday, the government went a step further, releasing the names of over 1,000 people who had been trimmed from the notorious list — including several high-profile activists, politicians, and even global celebrities.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, late recording artist Sonny Bono, and the late former Philippine President Corazon Aquino were just some of the names included in the announcement, which appeared on President Thein Sein's official website.

The government did not say why they were lifted from the blacklist, and said nothing about the status of the remaining 4,000 or so people who are left wondering what they have to do to be welcomed back in Burma.

Exiled Burmese activist Soe Aung works for the Thailand-based Forum for Democracy in Burma. He told VOA that many of his colleagues wonder why they were placed on the list at all.

“What they have done is just work for the people and human rights and democracy,” he said. “In my case, I am not sad…that I was not part of the list, because I believe that even myself also should not be placed on the list in the first place.”

The state-controlled New Light of Myanmar hailed the move as the latest step in the country's recent political and economic reforms. But Soe Aung takes a more cautious approach.

“In my opinion, a democratic government should declare a general amnesty so that people can go back to their country and work with the people,” he said. “President Thein Sein has said he wants to make his government a good government and a clean government, but he still has much more to do.”

Since taking power in March 2011, President Thein Sein has released hundreds of political prisoners, eased press restrictions, and allowed Aung San Suu Kyi to successfully run for parliament. His government replaced decades of authoritarian military rule.