Date
24 May 2017
A prisoner is reunited with a family member after a sweeping amnesty by the the Myanmar government. Photo: AP
A prisoner is reunited with a family member after a sweeping amnesty by the the Myanmar government. Photo: AP

Myanmar frees 7,000 political prisoners

More than 7,000 Myanmar political prisoners are free after a government amnesty, the largest in recent years.

They included more than 200 foreigners and former military intelligence officers, according to officials cited by the Wall Street Journal.

More thaan 150 were Chinese loggers who had been sentenced to life in jail last week.

Zaw Htay, director of the office of President Thein Sein, said 6,966 prisoners were released in an amnesty, including nine former military intelligence officers who were purged under Myanmar’s previous ruling junta.

Win Naing Lynn, head of the prison in Myitkyina where the Chinese loggers were being held on charges of illegal logging, said that all of them had been released “in accordance with the amnesty, and the friendship between China and Myanmar.”

Thursday’s amnesty was one of the largest that Myanmar has seen in recent years but activists and officials say they have not yet determined how many prisoners of conscience were among those released.

A representative for the Bi Mon Te Nay journal, a weekly publication in Myanmar, said that four of their journalists and the publisher of the journal were released after spending almost a year in jail for articles that the government considered defamatory.

Among the military intelligence officers released was Than Tun, a former brigadier general, and Tin Htut, son-in-law of the former prime minister and head of military intelligence Khin Nyunt.

About half a dozen other former military intelligence officials were released late last year in a similar amnesty.

These men were close associates of Khin Nyunt, released in 2012 after spending almost a decade under house arrest after falling out of favor with Myanmar’s military hard-liner Senior Gen. Than Shwe, who led the former junta.

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