President’s amnesty frees 24 political prisoners

Burma’s President, U Thein Sein, granted an amnesty on Tuesday that saw the release of 24 political prisoners out of a total of 80 prisoners who were freed.

Ko Tate Naing, secretary of the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma) based on the Thai-Burma, confirmed the release of political prisoners to Karen News.

“According to our latest source list, there were 24 political prisoners among the released – among the political prisoners released were five women and a monk.”

The amnesty was signaled in state controlled media reports on Monday. The reports said 80 political prisoners including 46 Burma nationals and 34 foreigners were to be released on Tuesday 3 July under criminal law procedure Article 401 (1) and Article 204 (A) of the Constitution.

Most of the latest batch of prisoners released today had been charged under Article 5(j), 17/1, 17/3 and 17/20. The prisoners were released from Insein, Mandalay, Puta O, Kawthoung, Dawei, Myikyina, Thayet, Katha, Myin Chan and Hpa-an prisons.

Ko Phyone Cho, an 88 student leader who is involved in assisting just released political prisoners said that it was time for the government to get abolish these laws.

“Articles 17/1 and 17/3 are used to charge people contacting with illegal organization or armed rebel organizations. These laws have no meaning now since the groups are now shaking hands and talking peace with the government.”

AAPP’s secretary, Ko Tate Naing, said that the government should include more political prisoners in the release as the government is in peace negotiation with the ethnic armed groups.

“This release [of political prisoners] is a very small number. During the peace building or working towards national reconciliation, there should be no political prisoners in jail. Releasing just a few political prisoners at a time is like keeping them as hostages.”

Among the 24 political prisoners, were three Karen political prisoners released from Insein Jail who were charged with contacting illegal organizations.

The three Karen political prisoners are Saw Francis (aka) Kyaw Kyaw, Saw Naing Win (aka) Alexander and Saw William imprisoned in 2010. Saw Francis said that they were all charged with contacting illegal organizations.

“I was charged with contacting AB [ABSDF] and I was in prison for more than one year. I am happy that I am released. Some of my friends are still left in prison. I also want them to be released.”

On January 12th this year, Burma’s President, U Thein Sein, granted an amnesty to 651 prisoners under Article 401, Section 1 among those released were over 200 political prisoners including Khun Tun Oo, a Shan leader and Min Ko Naing, the 88 student leader.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, chairperson of the National League for Democracy said, at yesterday’s press conference that according to their list, there are 330 political prisoners still in Burma’s jails and they [the NLD] have requested the government to release all political prisoners.

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