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Myanmar authorities release jailed US rights activist

[JURIST] Myanmar authorities on Thursday released [advocacy press release, PDF] jailed democracy activist Nyi Nyi Aung [advocacy profile], ordering him to leave the country. Aung, a US citizen, had been sentenced to three years in prison [JURIST report] after being convicted on fraud and forgery charges [JURIST report] by a Myanmar court last month. Advocacy groups have argued [JURIST comment] that the charges against Aung were filed because of his political advocacy, and a group of 53 members of the US House of Representatives [official website] called for his immediate release [letter, PDF] following his conviction. Aung is expected to return to the US.

Myanmar has recently faced significant criticism of its human rights record. Last week, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar Tomas Ojea Quintana released a report saying that some of the country's violations may constitute war crimes [JURIST report]. Also last week, Myanmar's junta announced new election laws [JURIST report], one of which bars pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] from participating in the upcoming elections. The move that immediately criticized by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official website], who said that the laws do not meet international standards [JURIST reports] for an inclusive political process. In January, a Myanmar government official said that Suu Kyi released from house arrest [JURIST report] in November when her sentence is scheduled to end, likely after the elections.

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