Burma’s President Invites Exiles to Return Home
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Monday, September 26, 2022

Burma’s President Invites Exiles to Return Home

By BA KAUNG Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Burma President Thein Sein delivers a speech at the presidential house in Naypyidaw, Burma on March 31, 2011.

Burma’s President Thein Sein announced on Wednesday that his government will allow exiles to return home and will consider leniency with respect to offenses other than murder. The announcement, which further promotes the new government’s message that it has embarked on a political and economic reform process, was delivered in a major speech to local businessmen in Napyidaw on Wednesday.

“The President welcomes exiles from different organizations who have left Burma since 1988 to come back home, and leniency will be considered for those who have committed offenses,” said Khin Shwe, one of the 400 businessmen who attended the gathering.

Khin Shwe also quoted the president as saying that the government will cooperate together with returning exiles to work for the betterment of the country.

The announcement, however, provided no clear security guarantee for the thousands of political exiles who have fled Burma’s decades-long political oppression and now live outside the country.

In addition, the status of war refugees and former political prisoners living in refugee camps in Thailand remains uncertain.

Aung Zaw, The Irrawaddy’s founder and editor who fled Burma as a political exile after the 1988 uprising, cautiously welcomed the announcement as a positive development, but said many exiles like him would remain doubtful of the government’s overtures until the political prisoners inside Burma are released and progress towards a peaceful resolution of the conflicts with ethnic armed groups is made.

“Exiles outside the country want to return home and contribute to their society, but it doesn't make sense that you keep thousands of people in jail while asking exiled Burmese to come home,” he said.

By contrast, Aung Naing Oo, a Burmese exile and one of the former leaders of the All Burma Students Democratic Front, an armed group founded by students who fled after the 1988 uprising, said that the new government, although formed by former military officials, have demonstrated a break from the past.

“It's good that the government has come up with such an important policy. Actual implementation may take a little longer. It's not an easy job with people trying to hold back possible reform initiatives,” Aung Naing Oo said.

“Exiles are encouraged to return because they will bring expertise, wealth, connections and other such things. If the policy is clearly directed at exiles then it is a form of reconciliation, although I am not sure every exile will go back immediately. For many people living overseas and members of the political opposition, there is still some distrust. Nonetheless, it is a very important step in the reconciliation process,” he said.

The latest move is seen by observers as part of the government’s increasing efforts to show the outside world that the nominally civilian government which took office in March has the will to make political and economic reforms, unlike the previous military regime which handed over power.

In the same speech, Thein Sein vowed that he will make economic reforms and tackle the country’s currency exchange crisis, which has seen the rapid fall of the US dollar against Burma’s local currency, the kyat, and damaged its export industry.

The latest developments came after two-closed door meetings between Aung San Suu Kyi and a government minister, during which their discussions reportedly included the release of political prisoners, the armed conflicts in the ethnic areas and the status of the NLD, which was officially dissolved last year for failing to register under the election laws.

There are reports of the government inviting Suu Kyi to an economic anti-poverty forum which is to be held this week, although her political colleagues have not been able to confirm this.

In a related move, the state-run media has stopped its daily publishing of slogans against the Western media such as the BBC and VOA.

Some observers link the government’s tentative reformist steps to the fact that in the coming months, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) will make a final decision on whether to award Burma its 2014 chair, and the government may be using announcements such as the one made on Wednesday and the meetings with Suu Kyi to persuade Asean to act in its favor.

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lersay Wrote:
I personally astound by the current brutal Burmese military and its government President Thein Sein has just woke up after treating their own people and Burma ethnic nationalities inhumanly, systematically killing and torturing the innocent men, women and children and unfairly ruling the country where banning ethnics right and voice and detained political prisoners who stand for their right for being more than six decades and still continue to act it.
We all want to dwell in our mother land peacefully, freely and live in harmony.

Sinyeh Thar Wrote:
I think this is a positive move by the government. This is the first opportunity in over 20 years where there is some hope for change, no matter how small. Let's not waste it.

I agree it's wise for some in exile to remain cautious until the government can provide more guarantee. But if they can, I for one am keen to establish my links with my country. I want to help rebuild, grow, and help my people. It's true that I think Myanmar/Burmese are one of the most patriotic and nationalistic of many countries. I feel passionately about reconciliation and doing something for the people of Myanmar.

Let's not waste this opportunity.

Zaw Min Wrote:
Have to wait and see how much the Government is serious

Myanmar Patriots Wrote:
Thiha Wrote:

"Please give the chance to the new government. The government should let us hold dual citizenship and let us decide where we should live our life in the future. Please let any Burmese to obtain the visa without paying $750 to The Myanmar Embassy."

Dual citizenship, yes, we concur. It will happen; only a matter of time.

Visa fee $750? That's not the figure we have. Could you clarify?

Myanmar Patriots Wrote:
Secretaries cannot always spell. Don't you know busy people dictate to secretaries, who work at their own pace in their own time. Is that clear?

It is slush, yes. Thanks but try to think creatively.

"For their sake, please cease and desist."

Curb your pathetic dictatorial tendency. And don't feel so inferior. We are not one person. Control your jealousy and stop imagining things for your sake, not for anyone else.

POV Wrote:
Myanmar Patriots Wrote:

"When is a bribe a bribe? Doesn't he understand the meaning of 'sludge fund', used by English companies to get contracts from abroad?"

Don't you mean "slush fund"?

I really think it would be better if you stopped trying to "educate" us. I'm afraid there may be a few people out there who are truly ignorant enough to believe that you actually know what you're talking about. For their sake, please cease and desist.


Terry Evans Wrote:
President Thein Sein should release the 2,200 political dissidents first.

Thiha Wrote:
Please give the chance to the new government. The government should let us hold dual citizenship and let us decide where we should live our life in the future. Please let any Burmese to obtain the visa without paying $750 to The Myanmar Embassy.

Moe Aung Wrote:

What a torrent of platitudes! Lip service and rhetoric have never done anything other than to obfuscate and deceive. If ideals can be achieved by preaching we'd all be in heaven!

Your message is plain: cooperate, collaborate, and defend the rulers in the name of patriotism. Loud and clear but lame.

Myanmar Patriots Wrote:
Myint Thein, Dallas Wrote:

"A desperate and failed attempt to avoid answering the tough questions about who received bribes to approve the Myitsone Dam. How the Chinese used bribes to secure corrupt business deals in Africa is described in the August 13, 2011 issue of the Economist titled "The Queensway Syndicate and the African trade" (www.economist.com). The Chinese are also engaged in corrupt and dirty business deals with the Thakhoe generals in Burma."

1.What has the invitation to exiles to come home got to do with Chinese? NOTHING!

2.When is a bribe a bribe? Doesn't he understand the meaning of 'sludge fund', used by English companies to get contracts from abroad?

Myanmar Patriots Wrote:

whoever you are, you are after my heart.
myitta/metta to you.

We will be fine. Just give Myanmars a chance.
Compassion and loving kindness to all.

May Khaing Wrote:
Since they do not set the clear security guarantee, no exiles will return home. This is not the first time the regime tried to fool the Burmese people.

Sai Lin Wrote:
I might go back to Burma if the Government released all Political prisoners from jail.
Otherwise, I cannot go back for risk of my life and my beliefs.

SSA Wrote:
I am an exile I don't believe them but, Irrawaddy if you open an office in Rangoon legally to write everything openly then I am going to believe something change we should go home or live like that thank you .

KKK Wrote:
Please do not forget about ICC. We need to focus on bringing them to ICC. This invitation is to change our focus from ICC. They know that the opposition groups and the western countries are trying to bring them to ICC. How many times they have been playing this kind game? We should learn lesson from the past. We should keep focus on making ICC case.

neverdie Wrote:
Burmese military doesn't have a human heart they were dominated by wild animal in the jungle. Please Killing is not going to solve a preeminent and peaceful solution in the country of Burma. Please change your political system before we give you nightmares.

violet Wrote:
As our country dignity has lost for years, why shouldn't we take the chair of ASEAN? This could be the first step to recover it.

I hope we would see all people enjoying equally and standing proudly as Myanmar in the international community soon.

violet Wrote:
This is a very good new for Myanmar exiles abroad for political reasons. I exclude here selfish Myanmar taking advantage from the country unrest situation to get the exile status and do nothing good for the country. Shame on them!

We should welcome all the efforts from sides, the Government, DASSK, oppositions, ethnic groups.

I believe that some sustainable development would be emerged soon.

Overall political, social and economic reforms for one country which has been under developed for years are not easy for every government in the world.

This is not for one household. Myanmar is a very big nation and millions of people inhabit there.

People have to be patient with full understanding and have to co-operate with positive views for the sake of the people (ourselves).

Just sitting and criticizing are very easy for everybody. In reality, to establish even one small business is very difficult.

Shan Freedom Wrote:
It is a good news for those who wish to go back. But wait, how about Min Ko Naing and the rest of the detainees in the prisons. When will they be free? Thein Sein, stop shooting off your mouth. What about the Shan and other people who have detained? What about the war? When will it be the political dialogue for a peaceful settlement. The message from Thein Sein is clear, "Bow to military regime or prepare to be wiped out." Of course, it is not surprise, that the ASEAN and its big father will welcome the message but on the ground, it is not like we see and hear from the propaganda.

Oo Maung gyi Wrote:
President Thein Sein step for exiles to return home is good, but first of all require to release all political prisoners. Without releasing political prisoners, it has no meaning.

At this juncture, president should not make any wavering minded, he should take straight forward step to meet Aung San Suu Kyi and to
discuss about the formation of NATIONAL GOVERNMENT for the betterment of the country.
Upon the formation of National Government US, EU and ASEAN will automatically recognize fully to wok together and 2014 Asean Chairmanship becomes no question.

soe Wrote:
Happy to hear that. Haven't seen mom for 23 years and off course we want to go back our mother land and contribute our experience to rebuild better Burma/Myanmar. But we want to see free all political prisoners first and end nation wide civil wars. Also let Aung San Suu Kyi to get involve peace talk and national reconciliation because our ethnic families absolutely trust her in this critical process.

Fred Wrote:
When the political prisoners are free and a culture of political permissiveness is established, the exiles will start coming home.

When weapons cease being important for the ethnics to maintain their ways of life, they will stop using them.

The government should hire perhaps 5 or 10 economists, people with real world experience, not the theoreticians. Pick specialists in markets, monetary policy, infrastructure development, mining, agriculture, manufacturing, import/export, and perhaps energy, ecology, tax structure, and such. You don’t want them to write treatises that no one will read. Give them a few weeks of fact finding. Let them solicit the opinions of others, because they will know the right questions to ask. Let them meet for a few weeks to develop their strategies. Then let them work interactively with the government to put these policies in place, modifying them as appropriate. Russia’s error in the 1990’s was using theoreticians, not real world market people.

kerry Wrote:
Good, so this means that all the political prisoners will be released, the most obvious act (and litmus test) of true and sincere good faith?

Myint Thein, Dallas Wrote:
A desperate and failed attempt to avoid answering the tough questions about who received bribes to approve the Myitsone Dam. How the Chinese used bribes to secure corrupt business deals in Africa is described in the August 13, 2011 issue of the Economist titled "The Queensway Syndicate and the African trade" (www.economist.com). The Chinese are also engaged in corrupt and dirty business deals with the Thakhoe generals in Burma.

hsa Wrote:
not many civilians left in Burma because of this military regime, now they welcome back the exiles. i'm not going back because i don't want to be slave labour and force to be part of military regime.

KML Wrote:
The President’s invitation is a positive turning point for the history. However there may be a lot of technical issues on this matter. There are so many types of exiled group: Refugees in the camps, Undocumented refugees, Internally displaced, Citizens of other countries.There are many reasons why Burmese people being “ exiled “ and it is not proper to discuss in this time if we really looking for the development of the country.

The Burmese government should form a “multi-displinary team” to visit refugee camps with olive branch to do strong public relation work. People like Ye Myint Aung ( Ogres) should be avoided.

Former citizens of Burma should be given “ No Visa Required” condition instead of tracing their past history if they want to visit homeland. They should not be treated as “traitor” but as “adventurers” . They can bring a lot of positive developments including expertise & money to the country.

Tamla Wrote:
The government is announcing the reform of the country excluding the ethnic conflicts. The root cause is not the exiled Burmese to come home. The government should speak of national reconciliation.This is the point.

Tom Tun Wrote:
Does anyone carefully do research about Thein Sein speech? He will be lenient if exile Burmese return home. That sentence means that we (exile Burmese) are criminals although we did not commit any crime. Thein Sein should release 2000+ political prisoners first and make peace with Ethnic group. Only after this he should welcome us back into the country. I also have serious problem with 2008 constitution. There are many political topics that Thein Sein should tackle first. Good try, but I don't trust you Mr. Thein Sein.

Tettoe Aung Wrote:
No thanks, first one has to be sure whether one is looking at a 'mirage' or 'the real water'. Since the reputation of the military regime of whatever hue or colour is not good one has to say, 'enter at your own peril'. People may think that one is rather 'unpatriotic' if one does not accept the offer but speaking for myself, who on the right mind will do that when the 'criminals' are on the loose and the 'innocent' will be 'investigated' or 'vetted' for excising their basic rights? Thank you, but I must decline.

Mualcin Wrote:
Thein Sein must release political prisoners(Prisoners of conscience) first. Other than that no one will trust his words. First thing first.

Sofia Wrote:
Please release all the political prisoners first who are not criminals...

if not the exiles Burmese people will think that you have built the new prisons for them.

KKK Wrote:
Thein Sein is a puppet. He has no authority. They are doing this for Asean chairmanship, and UN General Assembly in next month. I am wondering why they don't release the two thousands plus political prisoners. This is a very doubtful invitation and risky. No, we are not coming home until we see the genuine national reconciliation and true democracy.

MAUNG Wrote:
The President's voice was on TV for that speech. The first time since Gen Saw Maung's era that the actual voice of the head of state was being heard. Things are changing hopefully for the betterment of the country.

Kachin Wrote:
If government release all political prisoners including Min Ko Naing and like Zarkana, then, believe it to be rather it is a trap.

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