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Myanmar has freed over 8,500 prisoners: state media

[JURIST] The military government of Myanmar [JURIST news archive] reported Monday that it has released 8,585 detainees since the middle of November to celebrate progress toward drafting a national constitution [JURIST news archive], but opposition party National League for Democracy said that number only includes 10 political prisoners. International groups believe that Myanmar is still detaining 1,800 political prisoners, including 700 arrested during September pro-democracy demonstrations. Also Monday, the military government said that the new constitution would be drafted solely by a 54-member constitution-drafting commission [JURIST report], rejecting UN calls for the country's constitution-drafting process to be opened to outside groups.

Last week, the UN General Assembly Third Committee passed [JURIST report] a draft resolution [press release] condemning the recent crackdown against political dissidents in Myanmar, calling on the country's military government to release all political prisoners and to cooperate with UN special envoy to Myanmar Ibrahim Gambari [official profile]. The crackdown started when Myanmar security officers arrested hundreds of Buddhist monks demonstrating against rising fuel prices and human rights abuses by the military regime. At least 10 people were killed when government soldiers shot into protesting crowds [JURIST report] and the government has said that some 3,000 people were arrested for participating in the protests. AFP has more.

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