Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. Earth Science News .

Myanmar releases more political prisoners
by Staff Writers
Yangon, Myanmar (UPI) Nov 15, 2013

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only

Myanmar released 69 prisoners, including an environmental protester and two grandchildren of a former junta leader, ahead of its year-end deadline to release all activists and political prisoners.

Among the freed detainees are former leader General Ne Win's grandchildren, who were sentenced to death 11 years ago for an alleged coup attempt, the BBC reported.

Also freed was Naw Ohn Hla, a female environmental activist sentenced to two years in jail in August for opposing a controversial Chinese-backed copper mine.

The BBC said the releases signal progress on the promise by President and former junta leader Thein Sein to release the detainees. More than 1,000 political and environmental activists were in prison three year ago.

The releases also come as the European Union's European Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs and former U.S. President Bill Clinton are visiting the country.

Human rights group Amnesty International welcomed the latest release of prisoners, but warned time is running out for the government to make good on its promise.

The predominantly Buddhist country of 60 million has been opening up to foreign investment and tourism since the generals' relinquished power after half a century of dictatorship.

The junta was replaced by a military-backed civilian government of former officers that won an election in late 2010.

Since taking office in early 2011, the government also has loosened media restrictions and released hundreds of political detainees.

But the government has been struggling with allegations of human rights abuses, notably against minority groups and rebels.

"Today's release is of course welcome, but the fact remains that there are many imprisoned for peaceful activism still behind bars in Myanmar," Isabelle Arradon, Amnesty International's Asia-Pacific Deputy Director, said.

"President Thein Sein has promised to release all prisoners of conscience by the end of the year, but time is running out to show that this was not just empty words.

"We continue to receive reports of peaceful activists and human rights defenders being harassed and at risk of imprisonment for nothing but expressing their opinions. This has to end immediately, otherwise releases like the one today will be meaningless," Arradon said.

Among the released prisoners is Naw Ohn Hla, an ethnic Karen woman who was imprisoned in August for two years of hard labor for peacefully protesting a copper mining project.

"Naw Ohn Hla should never have been locked up in the first place and the fact that she has been given a conditional release and is still facing other charges is not good enough. She and others like her should be released unconditionally," Arradon said.

A particular flashpoint in recent years has been ethnic relations in the northwestern state of Rakhine where Rohingya -- a Muslim group with close ties to neighboring Bangladesh -- have clashed with Buddhists.

Communal violence in Rakhine in May last year left nearly 80 people from both communities dead. More than 100 people were injured and nearly 5,000 homes, 17 mosques, 15 monasteries and three schools were burned, the government said at the time.

Amnesty said among those remaining in prison are Tun Aung, a Rohingya Muslim serving 17 years for peacefully trying to halt communal violence last year, and Kyaw Hla Aung, a human rights activist detained since July who is currently on trial and facing a lengthy prison sentence.

Arradon called for their immediate release, saying they are behind bars for exercising their right to freedom of expression.

"Myanmar must ensure that throughout its transition and beyond there is space for civil society and for human rights defenders to work free from harassment and threat of criminalization."

Bart Vermeiren, deputy director of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Myanmar, said lingering religious tensions in Rakhine state are contributing to a humanitarian crisis.

"Livelihoods have been severely damaged and access to clean water and healthcare has been significantly reduced," he said in a statement Thursday.

Piebalgs, as part of the first European Union and Myanmar task force to encourage national development, said EU support for education, peace building and rural development in Myanmar could reach $120 million per year.

"The [political] development taking place in Myanmar is unprecedented and needs to be acknowledged," he said.

"But we must not forget about the challenges ahead, for which the European Union, as one of the main donors, will stand by with further support to continue the necessary reforms in the country."

Clinton, as head of the Clinton Foundation, met with government officials, including Thein, to discuss Myanmar's peace-making process, agricultural development, healthcare issues and power generation.


Related Links
Democracy in the 21st century at

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

Sri Lanka's Commonwealth Summit comes under fire
Colombo, Sri Lanka (UPI) Nov 13, 2013
Sri Lanka's government is on the defensive ahead of the 53-nation Commonwealth Summit following complaints of interference from a British television crew. The team from Channel 4 TV was prevented from visiting the former war zone in the north when their train was stopped by pro-government protesters, the BBC reported. About 250 placard-carrying demonstrators blocked the train fro ... read more

App turns smartphone into personal panic button, alert system

Japan medics bring high-tech fixes to Philippines typhoon

China to step up aid to Philippines amid controversy

Amphibious vehicles to boost Philippine aid effort

Protection Of Materials And Structures From Space Environment at ICPMSE 11

Snap to attention: Polymers that react and move to light

Altering surface textures in 'counterintuitive manner' may lead to cooling efficiency gains

Methane-munching microorganisms meddle with metals

Scottish fishermen dispute call to keep North Sea cod off menus

VC predicts the motion of the ocean

Discovery of 'missing heat' prompts new estimates of global warming

Saving our fish needs more than a ban on discarding

Iceberg the size of Manhattan could threaten shipping: study

Netherlands: 'Not enough time' to stop Greenpeace's arctic activists

Russia moves detained Arctic activists to St Petersburg

Arrested Greenpeace crew 'moved' to new location

Uruguay to bar foreigners buying land

South Korea's growing 'kimchi deficit'

NGO asks EU to not buy Paraguay beef over indigenous concerns

Egypt farmers fear water supply threat from Ethiopia dam

Typhoon kills 10,000 in one Philippine city: UN

More than 5,000 flee erupting Indonesian volcano

Storm-chaser says Philippines typhoon 'off the scale'

6.6 quake hits off east coast of Russia: USGS

Nigerian troops claim nine Boko Haram members killed

Algeria only NAfrica state to block rights visits: HRW

Five killed in Sudan friendly-fire shooting: army

Small bag offers solution to Kenyan slum's 'flying toilets'

China one-child law change small but crucial: experts

China eases one child rule, ends re-education in reform package

Fast-mutating DNA sequences shape early development; guided evolution of uniquely human traits

Scientists tracking Brazilian wildlife find ancient cave paintings

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement