July 04, 2017

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P.O.C’S WALK FREE — Political prisoners, activists, students freed from jail under presidential pardon

A student protester (C) and his family member cry after he was released by the new government’s general amnesty at Thayawady court, Thayawady, Bago division on 8 April 2016.
A student protester (C) and his family member cry after he was released by the new government’s general amnesty at Thayawady court, Thayawady, Bago division on 8 April 2016.

OVER the course of yesterday 113 political ‘prisoners of conscience’ including political activists and students facing trial connected with political causes were released from prisons across the country, according to the police source.
Sixty-nine students from Thayawady Prison were among those released yesterday, freed by presidential pardon.
The release comes a day after newly appointed State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi pledged to strive for the granting of presidential pardon to political prisoners and other political activists deemed to be unfairly detained.
Concerning those who remain detained for political reasons but come under the umbrella of people eligible for pardon, the State Counsellor’s Office released a statement signed by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi yesterday stating that the cases of those who were attending hearings on 8 April were revoked but the process for dropping charges against those who had not yet been assigned a fixed court date will require further work.
She pledged in the statement that the process for releasing the remaining detainees would be carried out when courts reopen after the Myanmar new year holidays which end on 20 April.
Bo Kyi, Joint Secretary of the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma) said in the exclusive interview with BBC that there are 121 political prisoners, 116 are under detention facing trial and 298 are currently on bail and facing trial.
Meanwhile, Amnesty International UK released a statement welcoming the release of the prisoners of conscience.
“Today’s release of most of the student protesters is a huge step forward for human rights in Burma (Myanmar), and we are delighted that these men and women will walk free,” said Amnesty International’s Burma Researcher Laura Haigh in the statement.
“It sends a strong message about the new government’s intention to end the cycle of political arrest and detention in Burma. We are now looking forward to the release of all other prisoners of conscience— including those students who are facing charges in other courts. The new government must ensure that no prisoner of conscience is left in jail,” Laura Haigh said.
Yesterday’s release of students and political activists is the first time the new government has made use of the president’s pardoning power.
Meanwhile, 2,178 prisoners who got time off for good behaviour annually granted by the Director-General of the Correctional Department were released yesterday from their respective prisons.

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