The Burmese government will release all remaining political prisoners in keeping with a promise President Thein Sein made during a visit to Europe earlier this year.
The list of detainees to be released includes 35 political activists and 20 ethnic villagers who were jailed for alleged connections to armed groups. Charges will be dropped against a further 200 persons, most of whom were arrested for protesting under Article 18 (the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law) and Article 505(b) (sedition).
The move follows a recommendation to the President’s Office on Monday by the Committee to Verify Remaining Political Prisoners.
Committee member Ye Aung told DVB on Monday that the President’s Office said it would “do its best” to meet the proposal.
“The President’s Office responded that they will do their best and we are waiting to see,” he said. “The year ends in one day – so if they don’t make it happen, the president’s promise to the international community will be seen as a sham while we will continue to expose the cases of political prisoners who remain behind bars.”
Then on Monday night, state TV and radio broadcast the news that the president was to issue a pardon to all those held under certain charges – which included all those listed by political prisoners’ welfare groups.
On Tuesday morning, state-run The New Light of Myanmar confirmed that detainees would be released and others would have charges against them dropped “in order to contribute to the stability of the state and the lasting peace, to build national reconsolidation, to ensure all-inclusiveness in the political process, on humanitarian grounds and to enable them to participate in the nation-building tasks after realizing the magnanimity of the state.”
The statement said that the presidential pardon applied to those convicted or awaiting trial on the following charges:
(a) Unlawful Association Act;
(b) Treason (Code of Criminal Procedure Article 122);
(c) Sedition (Code of Criminal Procedure Article 124 (a));
(d) The Law to Safeguard the State from the Danger of Subversive Elements;
(e) Peaceful Gathering [Assembly] and Peaceful Procession Law;
(f) Harming public interests (Code of Criminal Procedure Article 505);
(g) 1950 Emergency Act;