Fri, Oct 14, 2011 - Page 5 News List

Myanmar amnesty frustrates opposition

AFP, YANGON, Myanmar

Myanmar’s opposition yesterday expressed disappointment with a long-anticipated prisoner amnesty by the new leadership that left many key dissidents behind bars.

“There are still many prisoners who we expected to be released and who the people expected to be released. We feel frustrated,” said Nyan Win, spokesman for Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy.

The regime pardoned more than 200 political detainees, according to Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), but kept most of its roughly 2,000 political detainees — including democracy campaigners, journalists, monks and lawyers — locked up.

Activists have criticized the new nominally civilian government for not freeing more political inmates on Wednesday in its amnesty for more than 6,300 prisoners.

The prominent satirist and vocal government critic Zarganar, who goes by one name, was among those released and AAPP said the regime also freed General Hso Ten, a prominent ethnic Shan leader sentenced to 106 years for charges including high treason.

However, it said many leading dissidents, including key figures involved in a failed 1988 student-led uprising, remained locked up.

AAPP said the final figure for the number of dissidents freed has yet to be confirmed — partly because the government does not explicitly recognize political prisoners.

A prison official said that all those included in Wednesday’s pardon had already walked free.

“The amnesty is finished. All prisoners on the list were released yesterday,” he said.

Many political prisoners were sentenced to decades in jail and have endured “torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment,” according to Amnesty International, which urged the regime to go further.

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