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The Tyler group news blog, Myanmar released dozens of political activists

Posted May 02 2013 2:02am

Released women prisoners make their way out of Insein Prison in Yangon

Myanmar on Tuesday pardoned dozens of political prisoners a day after the European Union agreed to end almost all sanctions against the former pariah state, activists said.

Bo Kyi of the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma) said, at least 59 political prisoners were included in the latest amnesty.

“More than 200 political prisoners are still in prison,” he continued. “Political prisoners should be recognized as political prisoners and be released unconditionally.”

He said, the amnesty included 40 former rebels from eastern Shan state jailed for drug trafficking while describing them as “victims of politics”.

Nyan Lin, another activist, from the 88 Generation group, confirmed that at least 30 political prisoners were released.

Based from his counting, he included 17 Muslims arrested and charged under the emergency act after religious clashes in the central town of Kyaukse in 2003.

A Myanmar government official said that total of 93 inmates were pardoned but did not identify them. Out of the pardoned inmates, three were foreigners.

He said, “This release aims to allow them to participate in building the country and is also based on humanitarian grounds.”

According to State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell, the United States welcomed the latest release but called for the unconditional freedom of all political prisoners.

Since President Thein Sein took power in March 2011 Myanmar has freed hundreds of political detainees although they have been long denying their existence. The government publicized a reassessment of all politically allied cases in November last year.

Myanmar’s former junta was accused by rights groups of wrongfully imprisoning about 2,000 political opponents, dissidents and journalists.

And activists state Myanmar’s government has used a series of headline-grabbing prisoner releases for political gain.

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