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Myanmar Eyes Nationwide Clemency for Political Activists


Student activists celebrate outside the prison after being released by the new government's general amnesty in Yangon, Myanmar, April 17, 2016.

Student activists celebrate outside the prison after being released by the new government's general amnesty in Yangon, Myanmar, April 17, 2016.

Myanmar officials are reviewing court cases against political prisoners and working to drop all remaining charges against them, according to a top official.

Zaw Htay, a spokesperson for the president's office, told VOA's Burmese Service that an estimated 200 political prisoners will be released after the New Year holiday, which ends April 20.

“The cases they review [for release] should be cases of peaceful activities based on freedom of expression, but not about criminal activities and violent acts,” he said. "Home Ministry [will] review those cases and submit the list [to the president's office].”

In her first statement since assuming the role of state counselor, Aung San Suu Kyi vowed to push for the release of political prisoners and student activists.

President Htin Kyaw recently pardoned 196 political prisoners — 113 on April 9 and 83 on April 17. Htin Kyaw's office announced the prospect of broader amnesty on Sunday, saying the president had signed the order with the goal of achieving "national reconciliation" as the Buddhist New Year begins.

According to the nonprofit Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), nearly 300 political activists are still facing trials in various courts, and most of those are related to activism against land disputes and land grabbing.

AAPP data indicate more than 100 activists are currently imprisoned in Myanmar, which is also known as Burma.

(This report was produced in collaboration with VOA's Burmese Service.)

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