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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2740

Burma began releasing 6300 prisoners: UN Chief urges the release of all political detainees including Aung San Suu Kyi

Bangkok, 24 February, ( Myanmar's military government said it has begun releasing more than 6,300 prisoners, including some from opposition National League for Democracy. In the meantime U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has again urged Burma's military government to release all political detainees after only a token number of political prisoners were freed during a general amnesty that began Saturday.

However the State media reported the released prisoners were freed because of good conduct and so they could vote in next year's elections, The Washington Post reported Monday.

The National League for Democracy is led by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who remained under house arrest. Human rights groups say only a few of the prisoners being released are political prisoners.

Among the fewer than 20 political prisoners released so far are Zaw Myint Maung, elected to parliament in the voided 1990 elections but sentenced to 20 years in prison, the Post said. A number of monks jailed since 2003 also were released.

The releases come shortly after a visit to Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, by Tomas Ojea Quintana, a United Nations human rights official.

The Obama administration has promised to review the U.S. policy on Myanmar, which now includes sanctions against country's leadership and some of its influential business backers.

UN Chief Ban Ki-moon noted that the authorities in Burma have announced they plan to release some 6,000 prisoners under a general amnesty that began on Saturday, but only about 20 are political detainees.

He said, "I would welcome this announcement of amnesty as a first step toward larger and bigger implementation by the Myanmar authorities," he said. "There are still hundreds and hundreds of detainees under political reasons. As I said, I would urge the Myanmar authorities to release all detainees, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi."

- Asian Tribune -

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