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Myanmar releases 69 more political prisoners

Government promises to release remainder by year's end

Myanmar releases 69 more political prisoners

Myanmar has released more than 2,000 political prisoners since the start of 2011

John Zaw, Mandalay

November 15, 2013

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Myanmar freed 69 political prisoners on Friday in the latest amnesty by the government which left fewer than 100 prisoners of conscience behind bars for the first time in decades.

Among those freed on Friday were two grandsons of the late dictator Ne Win as well as ethnic rebels. The government aims to free all remaining political prisoners by the end of the year, presidential spokesman Ye Htut said announcing the releases on Facebook.

The latest amnesty represented “genuine reform and trust-building”, said Ye Aung, a member of the new government-appointed panel charged with reviewing the cases of remaining prisoners.

“But we doubt there will be zero political prisoners in Myanmar’s prisons as the government continues to carry out arbitrary detentions of democracy and human rights activists,” said Ye Aung, himself a former political detainee.

Only about 60 political prisoners remain behind bars in Myanmar, he said, although a larger number – about 100 people – face charges of illegal protest following the passage of a law that permits demonstrations for the first time in the country, but only with prior permission from authorities.

Tun Kyi, who was freed on Friday following a three-month prison sentence for protesting against a new Chinese gas pipeline in the western port city of Kyauk Phyu, said that he was due to be released 10 days later anyway.

“We have no confidence that the government is doing enough to eradicate political prisoners and help release inmates since those who have been detained for many years are in dire need of a livelihood and healthcare support,” he said.

In the past two-and-a-half years, Myanmar’s parliamentary government has freed more than 2,000 political detainees following five decades of military rule.

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