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Burma’s Dissidents Return From Exile

A prominent Burmese activist who had been sentenced to life in prison in absentia has returned to his homeland after his name was removed from a government blacklist.

Moe Thee Zun, left, was cheered by supporters as he arrived at the Rangoon airport on Saturday. He had been living in exile in the United States.

Moe Thee Zun was a student leader during pro-democracy protests nearly 25 years ago that were crushed by the government.

Other former dissidents also have returned to Burma recently after the government removed more than 2,000 names from a list used to refuse entry to exiled opponents of the country’s former military rulers and other critics.

Burma’s President Thein Sein has released hundreds of political prisoners and enacted a series of reforms since he took power in 2011. He has also eased media restrictions and brought into his Cabinet allies who back his reformist agenda.

On Thursday the government released the names of over 1,000 people – not all of them Burmese – who had been blacklisted but are now free to enter Burma. The activists, politicians, and global celebrities included former Philippine President Corazon Aquino, former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and the late American congressman and entertainer Sonny Bono.

An announcement posted on the Burmese president’s official website did not disclose the current status of about 4,000 other people who were blacklisted earlier.

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