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Myanmar frees opposition vice-chairman from 6-year house arrest

[JURIST] The government of Myanmar released [BBC report] 82-year old democracy activist U Tin Oo from six years of house arrest [CNN report] on Friday, just days before UN special envoy Tomas Ojea Quintana [official profile] is to visit the country [AFP report]. Oo, a decorated general, is the Vice-Chairman of the National League of Democracy (NLD) [advocacy website], the opposition party headed by Aung San Syu Kyii [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], currently under house arrest herself. Opposition activists have been expecting his release [Mizzima report] after word leaked out the general was undergoing eye surgery at the American Eye Vision Hospital in Rangoon. Thant Zin Oo, the general's son, said the release was a calculated political move [Irrawaddy report] designed to appease the UN.

The Burmese government announced last year that it was processing grants of immunity [JURIST report] to allow prisoners to participate in the 2010 general elections [BBC report] but it is unclear if the NLD will take part in them [AP report]. Burmese Home Minister Major General Maung Oo [official website] recently announced that Suu Kyi will be released from house arrest in November when her sentence is scheduled to expire.

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