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Sep 24, 2008 (DVB), Burmese pro-democracy groups have welcomed the release of some political prisoners yesterday as part of a government amnesty, but stressed that it did not indicate any change in the regime's stance.
Tate Naing of the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners said very few political prisoners had been released.
"Fewer than ten political prisoners were among the 9002 released," he said.
"They tend to release prisoners like that when the SPDC faces political pressure from inside and outside , they have done that since 1995."
National League for Democracy spokesperson Nyan Win said the whole country would welcome the release of veteran journalist U Win Tin, but said it did not indicate any move towards engagement with the opposition.
"In my view, all those freed were already overdue for release," Nyan Win said.
"Without the rule of law, there can be no reconstruction or progress in the country," he said.
"They released [prisoners] in the same way before in 2007, but I still can't say that there is any political hope yet."
U Sai Leik of the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy emphasised that many political prisoners remained behind bars.
"Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, ethnic national leaders including U Khun Tun Oo and Sai Nyunt Lwin, the Shan State Army-North's patron general Hso Ten and student leaders such as Ko Min Ko Naing have not yet been released," Sai Leik said.
"Only when these people and others who are being imprisoned for their beliefs are released can we be fully happy," he went on.
"We are happy for those released and welcome them but we want to demand the release of those still detained."
AAPP reported earlier this month that at least 286 human rights and pro-democracy activists had been arrested so far this year.
In August alone, 39 activists were arrested and 21 were given prison sentences, AAPP said.
Reporting by DVB