A Senior State Department Official today said Burmese President Thein Sein has granted amnesty to 651 prisoners.
“The United States views this as a significant development and a very positive one. And Secretary Clinton in her statement today indicated that we were beginning a process immediately towards exchanging ambassadors, and that will be part of a larger effort to see areas that we can support the reform effort that is underway inside the country.” -Senior State Department Official
Senior State Department Official said the Secretary also indicated that she will be speaking with Aung San Suu Kyi and President Thein Sein over the weekend as they schedule calls to exchange views on recent developments.
“I just want to underscore that the releases have taken place across a whole series of prisons across the country. And so we are trying as best we can to monitor developments on the ground or be in touch with family members. So far, everything that has been publicly reported by the government appears to be in alignment with what we are seeing on the ground.” -Senior State Department Official
Senior State Department Official stated that the reports so far indicate that many of the political prisoners have secured an unconditional release. Some have signed a specific waiver which would require them not to engage in certain quote/quote “illegal activities.”
“We are, frankly, urging the government to follow through on unconditional release. But it must be said that many of these people have chosen to accept this step; and from many of our conversations over the course of the evening, I think they are both grateful for the chance to rejoin civil society but also have a full intention to participate actively in the public affairs of the country going forward.” -Senior State Department Official
The Senior State Department Official said the United States is in close contact with advocacy groups and family members about developments on the ground.
“We’re being careful. We obviously welcome this, but we’re going to want to see the full details and continue to work closely with various international partners and friends on this.” -Senior State Department Official
The Senior State Department Official stated said the 651 prisoners are the top-level or high-profile political activists. And that include members of the so-called ’88 Generation Student Group that led the 1988 uprising and participated some who also participated in the 2007 Saffron Revolution.
“Taken in its total, this is one of the largest political – releases of political prisoners in Asia’s history. And if you add up the total amount of time spent in prison, it’s hundreds of years. And so it’s very substantial in that respect. And as we’ve indicated, the Secretary and the President have supported this and look forward to continuing steps.” -Senior State Department Official