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Burma Releasing Remaining Political Prisoners

  • VOA News

Burma's government says it will release its remaining political prisoners on Tuesday.

Hmu Zaw, a senior official in the presidential office, told VOA's Burmese service on Monday the amnesty includes not only those convicted of political offenses, but those whose cases are still being prosecuted.

Hmu Zaw says there are five reasons for the amnesty: for the sake of peace and humanitarian grounds, for national reconciliation; to allow those freed to take part in the political process; and to help rebuild the nation.

The government did not say how many would be freed, but human rights groups in Burma and former political prisoners estimate more than 200 people could be released. However, they say it is possible some may remain jailed because many political prisoners were convicted of other crimes, such as desertion or murder.

Over the past three years, Burma, also known as Myanmar, has undergone significant political reforms, as its military government has given way to an elected one. It has allowed opposition candidates to run for office and take seats in parliament, and eased tough laws on dissent and the news media.

The government has released more than 1,300 political prisoners since reforms began.

VOA's Burmese Service has contributed to this story.