Restrictions On Blacklisted Exiles To Be Lifted

By Htet Naing Zaw 27 May 2016

NAYPYIDAW — The Ministry of Labor, Immigration and Population, as part of its 100-day plan, will relax restrictions on all of those who were blacklisted by previous governments for their political beliefs, said Minister Thein Swe.

The minister revealed the plan as he met three media agencies at his ministry on Thursday.

“Today people can express their beliefs in line with the law because [Burma] has become open democratically and politically. Restrictions will be relaxed for all of those who were blacklisted for their political beliefs,” said Thein Swe.

He said his ministry will streamline procedures for political exiles to apply for permanent residence (PR) or citizenship, adding that the changes on entry visa procedures will come within the new government’s first 100 days.

“Some [types of] visas last for a short period of time. We’ll extend [their duration] in line with international norms. [Exiles] today have to fill in forms when they come back and they are also asked for many documents. We are planning to simplify that procedure,” said the minister.

The ministry was not able to provide exact figures for the numbers of blacklisted political exiles the rule change would apply to, due to the involvement of several ministries that are still reviewing their documents.

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.

Providing more details on the ministry’s 100-day plan, Thein Swe said he was also going to submit laws to the Parliament concerning foreign workers, worksite safety and occupational health.

“If we don’t enact a foreign workers law, we will not be able regulate them,” the minister said.

He added that facts and figures about Burma’s religions in the 2014 national census will also be issued, and the ministry was planning to issue ID cards in line with 1982 Citizenship Law, as well as household registration certificates and appropriate ID cards for internal migrants and workers.

The 1982 Citizenship Law is highly controversial, particularly for setting up a tiered citizenship structure as well as its use by successive governments to prevent ethnic Rohingya and several other non-Burman groups from gaining citizenship.

The ministry also said it was planning to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Thai government on the employment of Burmese workers, organize national level occupational seminars, open vocational training schools to produce skilled laborers and issue government-recognized skill-level certificates.

The ministry is also planning to open a migrant workers resource center in the Irrawaddy Delta and in Arakan State.

“We have already started some of the tasks in our 100-day plan, and we will be able to start more very soon,” said Minister Thein Swe.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.