Myanmar frees more political prisoners

Featured Politics South East Asia - July 24th, 2013
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More than 70 political prisoners have been released in Myanmar, in the latest move after reformist President Thein Sein vowed to free all dissidents by the end of the year.

Another 73 political prisoners held at various jails across the country were released Tuesday under a presidential amnesty, government minister Aung Min told the BBC.

Among those freed were 26 members of the Kachin ethnic group, which has signed a peace deal with the government after years of fighting for autonomy.

There are about 100 political detainees believed to be remaining in jails, rights group said.

During a landmark visit to London last week, President Thein Sein said there would be “no prisoners of conscience in Myanmar” by the end of the year, reports AFP.

Activists welcomed the release, but voiced concern over new arrests in the former military junta-ruled nation.

“Even if we welcome this release, we are very concerned because of the new trials, they continue to send new political prisoners to jail,” said Bo Kyi of the Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

Hundreds of political prisoners have been released since President Thein Sein introduced sweeping reforms in 2011, paving the way for foreign investment and economic development in the once-isolated country.