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New Committee to Review Political Prisoners' Detention in Burma

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Myanmar has authorized for an establishment of a new committee to review the detention of its remaining political prisoners.

Reports say the committee will include officials and representatives of political parties and civil society.

The government has previously considered all political detainees as criminals. However, the government now is working on defining which can be classified as prisoners of conscience and will find ways for their release as well.

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Thein Sein meets U.S. President Barack Obama in Yangon, 18 November 2012. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
About 240 were still reportedly being held in prison.

With the new announcement from the Myanmar authorities,the United States of America today welcomed the formation of a Committee on Political Prisoners comprised of government officials, civil society actors, and political parties to review and release all remaining political prisoners.

According to US Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland, President Thein Sein's government has made good progress on this issue, releasing more than 700 political prisoners over the past 18 months.

She says by establishing an inclusive, transparent review mechanism to ensure the release of all remaining political prisoners, the government has taken an important step towards national reconciliation.

"We look forward to supporting the implementation of this process." - Ms. Nuland

Presidential amnesty for political prisoners

In September 2012, Burma has released of remaining political prisoners this week whom under a presidential amnesty.

Reports say Burmese government announced that 514 prisoners would be released as part of a general amnesty. Around 90 of those pardoned are reportedly prisoners of conscience.

However, speculations raise that hundreds more are still being held despite the government's promise to release them.

The United Nations independent expert hailed the latest presidential amnesty releasing a number of prisoners of conscience in Myanmar.

Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar, Tomás Ojea Quintana also called on Mynmar authorities to continue "this systematic liberation" without conditions.

Reports say, it was fourth amnesty declared in 2011 by the government of President Thein Sein.

According to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), among those released was the prominent Buddhist monk named U Khaymar Sara.

Earlier in 2012, Myanmar authorities released 651 political prisoners including a number of key and prominent figures

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A girl from the Padaung minority, one of the many ethnic groups that make up Burma's population. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Many political prisoners included Sai Nyunt Lwin, 60, a prominent ethnic minority Shan politician, and Khin Nyunt, a former prime minister and military intelligence chief, a senior prison official said.

Min Ko Naing, the leader of a pro-democracy student uprising in 1988, and Shin Gambira, a well-known Buddhist monk who led 2007 street protests, were also reported to have been freed.

The latest moves by the authorities of the South-east Asian nation are the continuation of reform efforts begun in 2011 by President Thein Sein following the establishment of a new Government. These include an ongoing dialogue between the Government and pro-democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and the release in October of a significant number of detainees.

Ms. Suu Kyi, an opposition leader put under house arrest for almost 15 years, was released on 13 November last year.

Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain english. Read more stories by Mina Fabulous. Contact Mina through NewsBlaze.

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