A former Burmese dissident with an American passport said on Tuesday that he was being deported by Magwe Division authorities because he violated his visa conditions by teaching English in Yenan Chaung town.
“[Magwe Immigration Department] told me that with my visa I could not do any education project, and they took me to the airport for deportation,” Maung Maung Wang told The Irrawaddy from Rangoon airport shortly before his deportation.
He added that he had been on a social visa, which allows former Burmese citizens to stay in country for one month in order to visit friends or relatives.
Information Minister and government spokesman Ye Htut said in emailed response that Maung Maung Wang was not being deported because of his teaching activities. “I learned from immigration [authorities] about his case, and that his visa expired on Aug 2. This is why the immigration deported him,” he wrote.
Maung Maung Wang said he had been treated unfairly as he should be allowed to provide free teaching and to overstay his visa term for a few days. He said he felt he was being harassed because of his past political activities, adding that as soon as he began his English lessons early last month Yenan Chaung Township authorities had warned him to stop.
Maung Maung Wang was a community leader in Magwe Division’s Yenan Chaung town during the 1988 uprising, which saw protests erupt in numerous towns and cities across Burma. He fled to the Thai-Burma border following the military’s brutal crackdown and lived in a refugee camp, before being accepted for resettlement in the United States in 2008.
“I used to be in politics as an activist during the 88 uprising, but now I feel like I would rather focus on education instead,” he said. “It is very sad. I came from America to help our people for education but they did not let me do it,” he said. “They used their own laws and repress people like me, who they do not like.”
Burma does not allow dual citizenship and many dissidents that fled during decades of repression were forced to seek citizenship in other countries. They are required to obtain visa to return and stay or work in the country.