Prisoner advocates claim President Thein Sein’s amnesty as public relations stunt

A leading political prisoner advocate group has cast doubts over the sincerity behind the reasons for the release of some of the country’s prisoners earlier this week.

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoner (Burma) who have advocate on behalf of Burma’s political prisoners for more than a decade said in a media statement that President U Thein Sein’s amnesty granted to 514 prisoners is designed to portray him in a good light when he starts his foreign trips this week.

President U Thein Sein left for China on Monday and from there he is scheduled to continue to the United State of America.

Bo Gyi, joint secretary of the AAPP spoke to Karen News about the President latest amnesty.

“President U Thein Sein will have to speak during his foreign trip. It seems he is doing this to get praise. If he is since sincere in wanting to release prisoners, he should have released all the political prisoners without exception. This would have been a positive step toward national reconciliation.”

Bo Gyi accused the government of exploiting the prisoners, using them as hostages in a political game that sees the release of prisoners when it is necessary to generate positive media.

The government’s Information Ministry put up on their website that 514 prisoners, including political prisoners and foreign prisoners have been granted amnesty.

AAPP says the exact number of political prisoners and foreign citizen held in jail is unknown.

This is the fourth time an amnesty has been granted to prisoners since President U Thein Sein’s government this year – 6,656 prisoners on January 3, 2012, 651 prisoners on January 13, 2012 and 83 prisoners on July 3, 2012.

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