MYANMAR: GOVERNMENT GRANTED AMNESTY TO 651 MORE PRISONERS, INCLUDING 302 POLITICAL PRISONERS
January 12, 2012: the Myanmar government granted amnesty to 651 more prisoners, including 302 political prisoners.
The amnesty, the fourth granted to the prisoners in the country since the new government assumed office on 30 March 2011, is also a follow-up of the 6,656 prisoners who were freed and 38,964 got clemency under amnesty order of the president on 2 January 2012, when death sentences were commuted to life imprisonment and prisoners serving more than 30 years had their sentences cut to 30 years, while prisoners serving 20-30 years had their terms reduced to 20 years, and those with less than 20 years had their sentences cut by one-fourth.
Under the first two amnesty orders during last year, the government had respectively freed 14,758 and 6,359 prisoners in May and October totalling 21,117 in the year.
The latest amnesty was granted as "part of the national reconciliation process", Ye Htut, a spokesman for Myanmar's Ministry of Information, said. "This is a courageous step and a further confirmation that the reform course chosen by the government of Burma-Myanmar continues," said Catherine Ashton, high representative of the European Union for foreign affairs and security policy.
"The release of such a large number of political prisoners demonstrates the government's will to solve political problems through political means," said Win Tin, a senior member of Aung San Suu Kyi's party who had spent 19 years in prison but was released in a 2008 amnesty. (Sources: AP, Xinhua, Bloomberg.com, 12-13/01/2012)