Myanmar president Thein Sein [BBC profile] on Tuesday granted amnesty to 37 male prisoners and nine female prisoners on humanitarian grounds. Among those released are at least 25 political prisoners [list], according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners - Burma (AAPP-B) [official website]. Upon hearing of the amnesty, Noble Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] called for the release [AP report] of hundreds of other political prisoners who remain in jail in Myanmar. Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website; press release] cautiously applauded the release of the prisoners, stating:
Amnesty International welcomes the release of some political prisoners, but it is shameful that the Myanmar government continues to incarcerate hundreds of its citizens just for exercising their basic rights to freedom of expression and assembly. All prisoners of conscience must be released immediately.As of Wednesday AAPP-B reported that there are 441 confirmed political prisoners whose whereabouts are verified [list] and an additional 473 political prisoners whose whereabouts are currently under verification [list].
In June Aung San Suu Kyi urged the international community to support Myanmar [JURIST report] in its attempt to build a stronger democracy and uphold the rule of law. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] welcomed the release of hundreds of political prisoners in October of last year while calling [JURIST reports] the country to free the remaining prisoners as well. A month earlier Myanmar formed [JURIST report] the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission (MNHRC) to promote and safeguard the country's constitutional rights. In November 2010 the Myanmar Police Force released [JURIST report] Suu Kyi in November 2010 from her almost eight years house arrest.