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Fifty-six political prisoners are to be released on Tuesday, according to Bo Kyi of the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma).
Many of those listed for release are Kachin and Shan detainees, Bo Kyi said, adding that he did not consider the amnesty to be “unconditional” because many of the detainees must sign Article 401 – which allows for their original sentence to be re-imposed if they are deemed to have violated the terms of their bail.
Early indications suggest that the detainees would be released from the following prisons: Bhamo, Myitkyina, Kale, Lashio, Moulmein, Bassein, Thayarwaddy and Insein.
“What we have called for time and time again is for these detainees to be recognised as political prisoners and for them to be released unconditionally,” Bo Kyi told DVB soon after the news came through on Tuesday. “But we have not yet seen that happen today – they were not officially released as political prisoners nor were they released unconditionally – which is very disappointing.
“I assume most of them have been made to sign Article 401,” he added. “We appreciate that this is a necessary procedure, but nevertheless our demand for the unconditional release of political prisoners has not been met.
“Most of the 56 prisoners listed for release today are ethnic men affiliated with the Kachin Independence Army and the Shan State Army-South,” he said.
According to the data compiled by the AAPP-B and other organisations, 167 political prisoners were behind bars in Burma prior to Tuesday’s amnesty.
Bo Kyi said that around 232 individuals have been detained or are still facing charges under Article 18 [protest law] and Article 505(b) for waging ploughing campaigns against land seizures.