New Myanmar government frees scores of jailed activists

World Friday 08/April/2016 21:44 PM
By: Times News Service
New Myanmar government frees scores of jailed activists

Yangon: The new government of Myanmar democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi released scores of jailed activists on Friday, just over a week after assuming power, and the new president is preparing to pardon 100 more people serving sentences for political offences.
Many of Suu Kyi's supporters and members of her National League for Democracy (NLD) party were political prisoners under the junta that ceded power in 2011 after nearly 50 years of military rule.
Suu Kyi herself spent years under house arrest and said on Thursday releasing remaining political prisoners was a top priority.
A total of 69 student activists and supporters had charges against them dismissed and were released from jail in the town of Tharrawaddy, north of Yangon, said Zaw Htay, a spokesman for Suu Kyi's office.
Students and relatives hugged and some waved NLD flags after their release.
Many of them were detained during a violent police dispersal of student protests in March 2015.
President Htin Kyaw was putting together another pardon for more than 100 people serving sentences for political crimes, Zaw Htay said.
It was unclear if the military supported the moves.
The armed forces still control key cabinet posts overseeing local government, law and order and security.
Amnesty International applauded the release on Friday and called on the government to free remaining prisoners of conscience and repeal laws that it said fuelled arbitrary arrests.
Amnesty said at least five student leaders facing charges remained in detention.
The released activists were among 414 people facing political charges in Myanmar, said Bo Kyi, the head of rights monitor the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma).The release still leaves 47 on remand in jail and another 298 on bail while facing charges.
The new government was sworn in on March 30 after the NLD swept a general election in November.
Suu Kyi has said she wants a reconciliation government and to avoid recriminations over the military's brutal rule of the country.
But tensions have simmered between the NLD and the military over the role of the enormously popular Suu Kyi in the government and the continued power of the military.