Burma: Prisoners released, but how many remain?
13 Jan 2012
ARTICLE 19 welcomes the release of many political prisoners, including several high-profile ones, as announced this morning on Burma’s national broadcaster, State TV.
“We are happy that the government has finally released many political prisoners just a day after signing a cease-fire agreement with the ethnic Karen rebels,” says Dr Agnès Callamard, ARTICLE 19 Executive Director.
“Releasing dissidents from imprisonment is a good first step – what is vital is that they are also afforded the ability to speak out against any further injustices they might observe now they have been released.”
Other than members of the ‘88 Generation student group that led the 1988 uprising – such as leader Min Ko Naing, Nilar Thein, her husband Kyaw Min Yu – there were several other notable releases: Shan ethnic leader Khun Tun Oo, monk leader U Gambira, journalists Zaw Thet Htwe, Ngwe Soe Linn, Hla Hla Win, and blogger Nay Phone Latt.
“Unfortunately, without a free press or freedom of speech, we do not know how many political prisoners remain languishing in Burmese jails. We urge the international community to remember that without free expression, Burma can never be truly free,” continued Callamard.
The number of documented political prisoners ranges from 500 to 1,500.
The release of political prisoners comes on the back of the announcement of a cease-fire between the Burmese government and the ethnic rebel group, the Karen National Union. It marks an end of an extremely violent civil war which has caused enormous suffering for many years.