The United Nations (UN) rights chief has welcomed the release of a second wave of 83 prisoners on Myanmar’s New Year last Sunday, by Presidential amnesty.
This, according to a UN statement, follows the release of 199 political prisoners on April 8. Myanmar had dropped charges against them or they were pardoned.
The prisoners included students who were facing a prolonged trial following a protest against the National Education Law in March 2015.
At a press briefing in Geneva, Ravina Shamdasani, the spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, reported that the newly released prisoners include:
- Land rights activist Naw Ohn Hla who had been jailed six times for various peaceful protests
- Human rights defender Nay Myo Zin
- Community campaigner Htin Kyaw
- Five journalists from the Unity newspaper who were sentenced to seven years in prison in 2014 after the publication of an article
- Four labour activists convicted for supporting garment workers on strike
- Htin Lin Oo, sentenced in 2015 to two years in prison with hard labour for “insulting religion” after he delivered a speech criticising the misuse of religion to incite religious hatred
The government announced that these releases were part of its commitment to promote national reconciliation.
President U Htin Kyaw also stated in his New Year address that sustained effort would be made in the future to prevent “those who act legally for political causes or for their own conscience from being imprisoned”.