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Myanmar removes names from blacklist

From Kocha Olarn, CNN
August 31, 2012 -- Updated 0654 GMT (1454 HKT)
Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is among about 2,000 names removed from a blacklist in Myanmar.
Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is among about 2,000 names removed from a blacklist in Myanmar.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Former exiled activists now removed from blacklist arriving in Myanmar Friday
  • Myanmar releases a list of some 2,000 names removed from a government blacklist
  • International political figures, rights campaigners and journalists are among them
  • Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's two sons are named

(CNN) -- Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's two sons are among about 2,000 names removed from a blacklist in Myanmar, the president's office revealed Thursday.

The list of those barred from entering the country also features international political figures, rights campaigners and journalists, such as British investigative reporter John Pilger and CNN's Dan Rivers.

Another person no longer blacklisted is John Yettaw, an American citizen who made his way into Suu Kyi's house -- reportedly by swimming across a lake -- in order, he said, to save her from assassination.

The late Philippine President Corazon Aquino is also on the list of names, as is Britain's Glenys Kinnock, a former minister for Europe and wife of former Labour leader Neil Kinnock.

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Rights campaigners include Human Rights Watch's Asia director Brad Adams and the late U.S. singer, activist and politician Sonny Bono.

The announcement that about 2,000 names were being taken off the blacklist was reported by state-run newspaper New Light of Myanmar on Monday.

But the full list in English was only released on the website of the president's office overnight Wednesday to Thursday.

Dozens of American names, often accompanied by passport numbers, are included in the document, including the late U.S. Rep. Tom Lantos. Scores of Britons, Australians and Germans are also among those named, as are many people from neighboring Thailand and nearby Malaysia.

Burmese nationals removed from the blacklist included those listed as "ex-Myanmar," or exiled opposition activists who now have the chance to return home.

Among those names were Sein Win, chairman of the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma, a "government in exile;" Naing Aung, former leader of the All Burma Students' Democratic Front, an armed resistance group formed in the wake of the 1988 crackdown on pro-democracy protests; Aung Moe Zaw of the Democratic Party for a New Society; and Maung Maung of the Federation of Trade Unions of Burma (FTUB)

Naing Aung, Aung Moe Zaw and Maung Maung -- all now living in Thailand -- were expected to arrive in Yangon, Myanmar on Friday with two other exiled activists. Naing Aung said the trip was at the invitation of the government and was to include a meeting with President Thein Sein between September 11 and 13, the first by an exile group.

Announcing the decision on Monday, New Light of Myanmar said it was being carried out in line with democratic, political and economic reforms. There was no mention of how many people might remain on the blacklist, although The Irrawaddy reported more than 4,000 remained.

"In the past, companies and persons from all fields including media men were blacklisted and banned by the government in the national interest. But the government is lifting the ban on them in accord with the reforming system," the newspaper said.

"Green light would be given to those Myanmar citizens who are currently in foreign countries, enabling them to return home."

The move follows a series of reforms in the past year under the government of President Thein Sein, as the country's ruling generals have loosened their grip.

Myanmar has released hundreds of political prisoners, including Suu Kyi, and instituted a series of political reforms after decades of repressive military rule. Western governments have responded to the efforts by easing sanctions on the country.

CNN's Laura Smith-Spark contributed to this report.

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