Jump to content
The Official Site of the Vancouver Canucks
Canucks Community

Myanmar Releases Political Prisoners


Recommended Posts

From NYTimes:

October 12, 2011

Myanmar Begins Releasing Some Political Prisoners


BANGKOK — Myanmar began freeing some political prisoners Wednesday in the latest of a series of gestures of liberalization that has surprised some experts with their scope and rapidity.

The overall number of the releases was not immediately known, but by all accounts it fell well short of the 2,000 or so political prisoners estimated by Amnesty International, and analysts differed in assessing their significance.

The pro-democracy leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, told a gathering of supporters in Yangon that about 100 political prisoners had been released, adding, “We hope many more will be released.”

“As I have often said, the independence of everybody is priceless,” she was quoted by news agencies as saying. “I’m really thankful for the release of political prisoners.”

Amnesty International estimated that 120 political prisoners had been released and called it a minimum first step toward the unconditional release of all such prisoners. The group’s Myanmar researcher based in Bangkok urged the Myanmar government to take broader action.

“It is disappointing,” said Benjamin Zawacki of Amnesty International in a report by Reuters. “We had reason to expect, given the rather fast and qualitative steps that have taken place over the past several months, that today’s release would be more substantial numerically than these preliminary reports are telling us.”

The freeing of political prisoners has been an important demand of the United States as it seeks ways to re-engage with Myanmar. Officials in Washington said they would be watching closely to see who was released under an amnesty that the government said would include 6,300 prisoners of all types.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, quoted by Reuters, said she was encouraged by “promising signals” inside Myanmar, but cautioned it was still too early to announce any possible American response.

The first dissident known to have been freed on Wednesday was a popular comedian known as Zarganar, who was imprisoned in 2008 for criticizing the government, according to reports from Myanmar. “I will be happy, and I will thank the government only when all of my friends are freed,” he said in a report from The Associated Press.

The release of political prisoners had been signaled by an open letter from the country’s new human rights body, which called on the government to free “prisoners of conscience,” a term that was a departure from the country’s longstanding position that all prisoners are common criminals.

The announcement in the official media did not characterize the prisoners, but came amid talks over political prisoners between the government and dissidents, as well as American officials, that led the government to list about 600 it was considering releasing. In the letter, published in three state-run newspapers, the chairman of the human rights commission, U Win Mra, wrote that prisoners of conscience could be released if they did not pose “a threat to the stability of state and public tranquillity.”

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...