News / Asia

Jailed Activists Mostly Left Out of Burma's Latest Prisoner Amnesty

Danielle Bernstein

Burma's President Thein Sein has won international praise for recent political reforms and engagement with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. But the country's traditional prisoner amnesty this week was a disappointment for those hoping for the release of all jailed activists and political dissidents.

Crowds gathered outside Burma's Insein prison this week to await
inmates who gained release after their sentences were commuted. Few of the estimated 1,500 political prisoners were among them.

Last October, authorities released some 200 prisoners of conscience. Labor Activist Su Su Nway was among them. She has returned to the same work that got her arrested in the first place.

"What I am doing is working to eliminate forced labor," she said.  "Before I was sent to jail, that is what I was doing, too. I'm doing that again, and also working against farmland seizures."

Despite the government's opening that encourages activists like Su Su Nway, opposition leaders in Burma say they do not expect quick reforms and favor a pragmatic approach for dealing with the government.

"We want to all [political prisoners to] be free, but we don't expect all because the government make[s] changes in every respect - slowly, slowly, slowly so we don't want to expect all [will be] free," the activist said.

The newly formed National Human Rights Commission for the first time was recently allowed to inspect Insein Prison where many political prisoners are held.

Commission Chairmain Win Mra says even though the group is independent, it must work within the law and does not directly contradict the government's position that there are no political prisoners in Burma.

"There is a lot of emphasis being put on what is termed as 'prisoners of conscience', but the government says there are no prisoners of conscience. The commission of human rights addresses all prisoners who can contribute towards the democratization process," said Win Mra.

Following this week's prisoner release, pro-democratic parties are now looking forward to April by-elections as another small step toward political reform.

You May Like

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid