Myanmar frees 60 political prisoners

2012-09-18 10:06
A freed Myanmar political prisoner, right, is welcomed by his friend as he comes out of Insein prison in Yangon, Myanmar in January 2012. (Khin Maung Win, AP)

A freed Myanmar political prisoner, right, is welcomed by his friend as he comes out of Insein prison in Yangon, Myanmar in January 2012. (Khin Maung Win, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Yangon - About 60 political prisoners have been freed in Myanmar, a member of Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy said on Tuesday, after the government announced a widespread pardon for hundreds of inmates.

The amnesty came as democracy champion Suu Kyi arrived on Monday for a keenly anticipated US tour which will coincide with a separate visit next week to New York by President Thein Sein.

"About 60 political prisoners have been released under an amnesty. According to our figure, we have about 300 political prisoners inside the prisons," said the NLD's Nine Nine, adding the party was trying to confirm releases around the country.

The figure was broadly similar to that from Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, which collates information on jailed dissidents in Myanmar.

A prisons department official in the capital Naypyidaw said a total of 514 detainees had already been freed, the majority of whom were foreigners.

"Altogether 399 foreign prisoners were released under the amnesty yesterday. They were Chinese, Indian, Bangladeshi, Thai and Laotian," he said, declining to comment on whether the remainder were political prisoners.

'Bolstering stability'

Thailand's foreign ministry said 83 of its nationals who were arrested in July after illegally crossing into Myanmar were also among those to be freed.

Explaining the pardons, state television on Monday said they were aimed at bolstering the "stability of the state and eternal peace, by respecting humanitarian grounds... and also to have friendship and goodwill in relations with neighbouring countries".

Myanmar has already granted amnesty to hundreds of political prisoners as part of reforms responsible for a dramatic thaw in relations between the West and the long-isolated nation formerly called Burma.

Estimates of the exact number of political detainees still locked up vary but opposition groups have said around 300 activists still languished in jails around the country until this week.

Rights groups welcomed Monday's amnesty but called for further details over exactly who was being released and how many political prisoners remain in jail.

Myanmar was for decades ruled by an iron-fisted junta, but a reformist government under ex-general President Thein Sein has ushered in sweeping changes, including welcoming Suu Kyi's party back into mainstream politics.

But activists say steps towards greater democracy are undercut by the remaining detentions of dissidents.

Suu Kyi, who is now an elected politician, used her long-awaited acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize in Norway in June to call for the release of Myanmar's remaining political prisoners, warning of the risk that "the unknown ones will be forgotten".

Read more on:    thein sein  |  aung san suu kyi  |  myanmar

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


How to get rid of fleas

Before you call in the pricey exterminators, try this DIY approach that promises to get your flea problem under control.



12 Cool cat facts
Chocolate can be fatal for dogs
Spider-man star's adorable relationship with his dog
Do you know what you are feeding your dog?
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.