The Burmese authorities have released dozens of prisoners today as their promise to discharge 6,000 from Burmese jails, including many political prisoners.
According to a spokesperson for Aung San Suu Kyii’s National League for Democracy (NLD), over 120 prisoners have been released so far, including the comedian Zargannar who was jailed in 2008 for criticising the government’s handling of cyclone Nargis.
Journalists, pro-democracy activists and monks involved in anti-government protests are among those arrested in the past 10 years. There are also a high proportion of prisoners from ethnic groups fighting for greater autonomy in Burma.
Burma has already released around 7,000 political prisoners already since declaring amnesty for 15,000 in May of this year, however many have speculated on the true number released.
There has also been wide condemnation of the release, seen by many activists as an attempt to appease the general public and focus attention away from more prominent issues such as media censorship and public-order laws.
Burma has been a nation of great transition since the first elections in two decades were held last year, where the military led government was replaced with a civilian backed military government.
Burma’s president Thein Sein had been relaxing measures on exiles and prisoners steadily since March of 2011; however the developments of the past few months have been seen as unprecedented by many.
Aung San Suu Kyii has held talks with the newly instated government since her release last year. Supporters of Auu Kyii have pointed to the lack of political prisoners released since the amnesty, and western media is expected to scrutinise the list of those already released to gain a better understanding of how dramatic a change the Burmese government’s actions have had on a country in the grip of social unrest for the last half a century.