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Myanmar releases some political prisoners

Mandalay (UCAN): Several of the Union of Myanmar’s most high-profile political prisoners were reportedly released or scheduled for release on January 13 in the country’s latest round of amnesties. Among them were 88 Generation Students Group leader, Min Ko Nain and Gambira, the monk who helped spearhead the 2007 Saffron Revolution.

State media announced on January 12 that about 650 prisoners would be released, though specific names were not given. The announcement followed a prisoner release on January 3, during which only a handful of dissidents were freed.

Win Kyi, a member of the National League for Democracy (NLD), who was released from Oo Bo prison in Mandalay on January 13, told UCANews that he was eager to return to the work for which he was incarcerated for the last eight years. “Our journey is not finished, and we must move forward to fulfill our dream of getting democracy in our country,” he said. He was sentenced to 23 years in prison in 2003.

Win added that recent steps by the country’s nominally civilian government had fired his hopes of real and enduring change.

“If all people in the country work together with fraternity, we may reach our goal of becoming a democratic country, including a durable peace in the ethnic regions,” he said.

According to NLD sources in Mandalay, some 14 prisoners from Oo Bo prison, including four monks and nine former military intelligence personnel, were released on January 13. According to a report from Reuters news agency, 60-year-old Sai Nyunt Lwin, an ethnic minority Shan and secretary of the former Shan Nationalities’ League for Democracy, was also freed, but from Kalaymyo prison. 

Sai told Reuters, “I have confirmed all remaining leaders of the SNLD, including the chairperson, Khun Tun Oo, were released from different prisons across the country today.” 

Also freed in the amnesty was former prime minister, Khin Nyunt, who was arrested in 2004 and kept under house arrest following a purge of the country’s military intelligence apparatus. He was among the first to promote Myanmar’s seven-point “road map to democracy” in 2003.

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