Myanmar president grants ninth political prisoners amnesty

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Yangon (Eleven Media/ANN) - The ninth round of amnesty for political prisoners has been granted prior to the President Thein Sein's visit to the United States.

Within the two years after the President Thein Sein government has taken the office, the ninth amnesty of the political prisoners, under the section 401 subsection (1) was granted on May 17.

Twenty-three political prisoners, including former army captain Nay Myo Zin, who was sentenced to three months in jail as he refused to pay a fine of 20,000 kyats for defaming the police's reputation, were granted in this time amnesty.

Nay Myo Zin was re-arrested on May 2 together with his remaining years of jail sentence of the former conviction. However, he is released totally in this time amnesty as his remaining sentence has been commuted.

"I think this is what the government should do for the sake of public desire. Director of the Maubin Prison told me that that time amnesty is under Section 401 subsection (1) according to the letter released by the President's Office. This time releasing has no bond. I hope every prisoner of conscience has such kind of clearance in their releasing," Nay Myo Zin said.

According to the reports until May 17 evening, ten political prisoners from the Insein Prison, five from the Tharyawady Prison, two from the Taungoo Prison and each from Mandalay, Pathein, Maubin, Taunggyi, Lashio prisons were released. Among them, most were accused of convicted in bombing and explosion.

The released prisoners are Aung Naing, Kan Min Thar, Sai Tin Min Ko, Win Myint, Sai Khanhlu, Haymar Nay Win @ Mar Mar Lwin, Ye Htut Khaung, Soe Shwe @ Panyar Wuntha, Kyaw Moe Htet and Tun Oo from the Insein Prison, Aye Min Naing @ Aung Htoo, Htet Ko Lin, Kyaw Zin Oo @ Hpone Kyaw, San San Maw and Zaw Lwin @ Pho Zaw from the Thayawady Prison and Saw Shandrat and Sai Thiha from the Taungoo Prison.

"I'm a teacher. I live in Kyaukyi Township. A child was injured in explosion in front of my house. For that case, I was accused of being guilty for that explosion, and was sentenced to twenty years imprisonment. Actually I need to live seven more years for the full sentence. I'm glad to be released unexpectedly. But there are some political prisoners in the prison. So I can't be happy very much," said Saw Shandrat.

"I was sentenced to six years in jail for the explosion case. I'll be released in 2016 in the actual sentence. I'm glad now. There are still five political prisoners in the prison building I lived," Sai Tin Win said.

The new government has announced amnesty orders for total of ten times within its two years administration. Political prisoners were discharged in nine out of ten. Every amnesty was seen to be coincident with some political movements.

In fact, the first amnesty was on May 16, 2011 while Myanmar was trying to be the chairman of the ASEAN. October 11, 2011 amnesty was prior to the arrival of the representative group to study whether Myanmar government deserved to be the ASEAN chairman. January 2, 2012 amnesty was before the honouring ceremony of the 64th Independence Day. January 13, 2012, in which many famous prisoners of conscience were released, was after the historic visit of Hilary Clinton, the secretary of state of US.

Likewise, other amnesties were granted before the president attended the United Nations General Assembly, before the American president visited Myanmar, before the 22nd ASEAN Summit and this time is before the president's visit to the US.

Myanmar government has been criticized as using political prisoners as tools for its episodic releasing them to get the political gain. The international community seriously condemned the military junta for detaining of political prisoners.

"Myanmar President doesn't use political prisoners as tools; his strong determination is all inclusive political process. That's all," Zaw Htay, director of the President's Office, said on his Facebook on May 17 evening.

There are over 1500 political prisoners still remained in prisons according to the lists (deaths and released ones included in the lists) reported from various organizations to the Examination Committee for Remaining Political Prisoners.

According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, 165 political prisoners are still in jail and over a hundred of people are being prosecuted for political activities.

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