3,000 prisoners to go free in Burma

Female prisoners get off a truck after they were released from Insein prison in Yangon, Burma, after the government pardoned 3,073 inmates (AP)
The government in Burma has pardoned more than 3,000 prisoners as part of an amnesty that rights groups said included more than a dozen political prisoners.

It comes a month before a summit of regional leaders convenes in the country.

The Ministry of Information announced the amnesty on its website, saying the 3,073 prisoners were being freed "on humanitarian grounds".

It did not refer specifically to political prisoners and most of those released had committed minor crimes.

The official Political Prisoner Scrutiny Committee said that at least 13 of those pardoned were jailed for political offences and at least eight were former senior military intelligence officers detained after the 2004 ousting of former intelligence chief and prime minister Khin Nyunt.

Ye Aung, a former prisoner who is now a member of the government committee, said the amnesty appeared to have been timed ahead of a meeting of Asia-Pacific leaders in Burma next month.

He praised the release but called for the freedom of about 75 political prisoners who remain detained.

President Thein Sein, a former general who was elected in 2011 after five decades of military rule, had pledged to free all political offenders by the end of the year.

He has freed more than 1,000 political prisoners since taking office but critics note that people continue to be locked up for political offences under his nominally civilian government.

It has become a pattern for prison amnesties to coincide with high-profile international or regional meetings as a way of highlighting what the government says are its benevolent policies.

Press Association
- See more at: http://www.independent.ie/world-news/3000-prisoners-to-go-free-in-burma-30645340.html#sthash.ctCItxyB.dpuf

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