News / Asia

Burma Releasing Political Prisoners Tuesday

Political prisoners Yan Naing Tun (C) and Aung Min Naing (back L) talk to the media after being released from Insein prison in Rangoon, Dec. 31, 2013.
Political prisoners Yan Naing Tun (C) and Aung Min Naing (back L) talk to the media after being released from Insein prison in Rangoon, Dec. 31, 2013.
VOA News
Freed dissidents began emerging from Burmese jails Tuesday, the last day for President Thein Sein to make good on his promise of releasing all political prisoners by year's end.

At least five political prisoners have been released so far. More are set to walk free in the coming days as part of what officials are calling a wide-ranging amnesty.
 
The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners reported that among those freed are Aung Min Naing and Yan Naing Tun, activists jailed for leading an unauthorized protest.
 
AAPP's Bo Kyi, who serves on a government political prisoner panel, told VOA he expects the remaining prisoners to be let go during the first week of January.
 
That would include an estimated 40 jailed dissidents. It would also mean charges are being dropped against about 200 others facing trial for political reasons in Burma, also known as Myanmar.
 
President Thein Sein announced the amnesty Monday. The reformist president promised during a July London visit to free all political prisoners by the end of the year.

Presidential spokesman Ye Htut said on his Facebook page Tuesday that the promise has been kept, declaring "there are no more political prisoners" in Burma, also known as Myanmar.

Rights groups estimate around 40 political prisoners are still in prison in Burma. Additionally, around 200 people are awaiting trial, including many who were recently charged with violating a new protest law.

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 also those whose cases are still being prosecuted.

Hmu Zaw says there are five reasons for the amnesty: for the sake of peace, for humanitarian reasons, 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 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, but rights groups say the government's efforts will be incomplete if it does not amend or remove oppressive laws that have allowed the government to continue detaining its critics.
 
They also point out that many of those freed have been re-arrested later.

You May Like

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in public More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid