Activists: Myanmar begins freeing prisoners
Myanmar released 220 political prisoners — thought to be the largest number ever in the country’s history — in an apparent bid to soften international criticism over human rights and ease economic sanctions.
A total of about 300 political prisoners are expected to be released as part of an amnesty deal Friday, said Tate Naing, a spokesman for the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.
Among those already freed is former Prime Minister Khin Nyunt as well as Ko Ko Gyi and Mo Ko Naing, both student leaders during the country’s 1988 pro-democracy protests that thrust opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi onto the world stage.
A presidential pardon has granted amnesty to 651 prisoners in Myanmar, also known as Burma, though not all of those detained are identified as so-called prisoners of conscience.
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Democracy activists, observers say, are expected to be freed throughout the day — one of the preconditions western government have insisted upon before sanctions could be lifted.