Burma

28 Burmese Expats to Regain Citizenship

By Htet Naing Zaw 3 May 2017

NAYPYIDAW — Twenty-eight Burmese expatriates will be granted Burmese citizenship soon, said permanent secretary of the Ministry of Labor, Immigration and Population U Myint Kyaing.

The former administration under ex-President U Thein Sein invited Burmese expatriates back to join state-building efforts after he assumed office in 2011.

Dual citizenship is prohibited in Burma, according to the 1982 Citizenship Law. Tens of thousands of Burmese exiles, who fled the country for various reasons under the military regime, effectively lost their Burmese citizenship while living abroad after being granted residency or citizenship in foreign countries.

Under the former government, Burmese expats had to apply for visas to return to Burma. Later, U Thein Sein formed a committee to review and approve citizenship applications from Burmese expatriates.

Burma’s de facto leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has formed a similar committee, which she chairs as foreign minister.

“We have received 55 applications since the new government took office and approved 22 of them. We have also approved six applications submitted to the previous government, which it had not finished reviewing. So, a total of 28 Burmese expats will be granted Burmese citizenship at this time,” said U Myint Kyaing, at a press conference in Naypyidaw on Tuesday.

A total of 188 Burmese expats applied for the citizenship under U Thein Sein’s government, which granted citizenship to 143 of the applicants.

Of the remaining 45, 16 were not eligible, 12 did not submit complete documents, 11 committed “unpardonable” offenses, and six applied during the power transfer and the previous government could not review them.

Of the 55 people who submitted applications under the new government to date, 33 have yet to be reviewed.

“We mainly check if the applicants are blacklisted or if they have committed significant crimes. If not, they are eligible for citizenship,” said U Myint Kyaing.

The NLD government will relax restrictions on those who were blacklisted by previous governments for their political beliefs, said Labor, Immigration and Population Minister U Thein Swe when he announced the ministry’s 100-day plan in May, 2016.

Under previous governments, ministries and universities also blacklisted those who did not return from their state-funded studies in foreign countries. They will also benefit from the rule change, the minister said.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko

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