April 13, 2021
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Burma’s Release of Prisoners Insufficient, say Rights Groups

18 May 2011: The release of about 15,000 prisoners and one-year reduction of prison terms announced yesterday by Burma’s new government are not enough, with more than 2,000 political prisoners still detained in the country, according to rights groups.

However, the rights groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch welcomed the decisions for many prisoners, believed to be common criminals, who were freed in Burma yesterday.

Benjamin Zawacki, Amnesty International’s Myanmar researcher, said in the statement: “While the reductions are welcome news for political prisoners, they are astonishingly insufficient. These actions fall well short of the comprehensive release of all prisoners of conscience desperately needed in Myanmar.”

Amnesty International said the reduction of prison terms must be followed by the immediate and unconditional release of all prisoners of conscience, calling on Thein Sein’s administration to abolish the death penalty.

Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, called the one-year reducation ‘a sick joke’ as the 2,100 political prisoners are unjustly serving sentences up to 65 years, saying: “This is a pathetic response to international calls for the immediate release of all political prisoners.”

The prisoner amnesty, announced on Monday by President Thein Sein, has also been slammed as a ploy by Burma’s new government to appease the international community, according to AAPP (Assistant Association for Political Prisoners – Burma) in its statement yesterday.

The amnesty announcement was made soon after Mr. Vijay Nambiar, Special Adviser on Burma to the UN Secretary-General made a visit from 11-13 May last week, urging for the release of political prisoners.

AAPP noted that the current amnesty will have no impact on the vast majority of political prisoners, most of whom are serving long prison terms.

Twenty-eight political prisoners are serving 65 year sentences, such as the 88 Generation Movement leadership, including Ko Min Ko Naing and Ko Htay Kywe, according to a statement by AAPP.

Alongside its political prisoners, Burma has more than 60,000 prisoners in 42 prisons and 109 labour camps, according to BBC News.

Van Biak Thang

[email protected]

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