The Burmese government has published a list of 1,000 foreigners' names who were stricken from its “blacklist” this week, revealing prominent diplomats, journalists and human rights activists. More than 4,000 blacklisted names remain on the list.
Among the names removed from the blacklist were former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, the late US singer, activist and politician Sonny Bono, and the late Philippine President Corazon Aquino, according to an Associated Press report.
The list can be seen on the website of the Office of the President (www.president-office.gov.mm/). It’s the latest sign of openness from the new government which took power in March 2011.
The blacklist kept out critics and others deemed a threat to national security, blocking selected foreigners from entering the country and also prohibiting certain Burmese nationals from leaving.
Also cut from the list are the sons of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi – Alexander Aris who lives in the United States and his London-based brother Kim Aris.
Some people cited had already been allowed back into the country, suggesting that their names were previously removed from the list. Kim Aris has visited his mother a few times since her release from house arrest in 2010.
One name from past headlines was John William Yettaw, an American who was deported from Burma after swimming to Suu Kyi's lakeside home in 2009 in a bizarre act that landed them both in detention.
Several Associated Press reporters are among the many foreign correspondents removed from the blacklist, including longtime AP Bangkok bureau chief Denis Gray and Swedish author and journalist Bertil Lintner.
Lintner, whose books on Burma include “Outrage: Burma's Struggle for Democracy,” told Reuters: “I feel good, of course, to be able to visit the country I have written about for so many years.”
Diplomats removed from the list include former US Charge d'Affaires Priscilla Clapp and British Ambassador to Burma Vicky Bowman, who married a Burmese painter and former political prisoner.
Prominent Burmese dissidents removed from the list include Aung Din, head of the Washington-based U.S. Campaign for Burma, said the AP.
The trimming of the blacklist was the latest sign of change as Thein Sein's government implements reforms after decades of harsh military rule.