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Myanmar prisoner releases stalling

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Bangkok Post

Myanmar's reform-minded government may fall short of fulfilling its commitment to free all political prisoners by the end of this year, a member of the committee reviewing prisoners'status said on Saturday.

"The number of political prisoners is falling, but it will not reach zero because the authorities are detaining more and more activists," said Bo Kyi, a member of the government-appointed committee.

During a visit to Britain in July, Myanmar President Thein Sein pledged to release all political prisoners remaining in Myanmar by the end of this year.

His government has released hundreds of political prisoners since it took office in 2010, and has also implemented other wide-ranging political reforms.

But ongoing political strife and disagreements over what constitutes a "political prisoner" are raising doubts about the president's commitment.

"It's necessary to define the actual meaning of political prisoner," said committee member and former student leader Ko Ko Gyi.

"If not, there will be political prisoners behind bars even after this year."

An example cited by some analysts is Naw Ohne Hla, an activist who was jailed this week for two years in connection with protests over a controversial Chinese-backed copper mine project.

Doubts have also been raised over whether jailed members of ethnic insurgent armies qualify as political prisoners.

"There are now fewer than one hundred political prisoners remaining in Myanmar for the first time in many years," Ko Ko Gyi said. "We see this as a great positive step, but we must keep in mind that many more things need to be done."
Source link: http://www.bangkokpost.com/breakingnews/367348/political-prisoner-releases-stalling-in-myanmar

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