8 released from Myanmar prisons after presidential amnesty

Myanmar on Tuesday freed eight political prisoners a day after President Thein Sein announced an amnesty for all remaining people imprisoned for political offenses.

Bo Kyi, a member of the government's Political Prisoners Scrutinizing Committee, confirmed to Kyodo News that five prisoners were released from Insein Prison in Yangon, two from Taunggyi Prison in Shan State and one from Mawlamyine Prison in Mon state.

"It's hard to say the total of how many (prisoners) are released today. But from the committee's list, only five were released. The other three have been released under the president's amnesty on certain laws," Bo Kyi said.

Bo Kyi, who is also the joint secretary of the activist group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, also said that the number of released prisoners may increase.

The president's spokesman Ye Htut posted on Facebook that there are no more political prisoners in the country due to the presidential amnesty issued Monday, adding that the president kept his promise to release all remaining political prisoners by the end of the year.

However, the AAPP argues that more than 40 political prisoners are still incarcerated.

Bo Kyi explained that people imprisoned for political and criminal offenses will not be freed under the amnesty, although their political charges will be cleared.

The AAPP will continue to regard such people as political prisoners because their criminal chargers were trumped up, Bo Kyi said.

"We welcome the president's order and it is a support for zero political prisoners in Myanmar. But without releasing the remaining ones, it's hard to say that the country totally doesn't have political prisoners," he said, adding that the AAPP expects the rest will be released in the first week January.

According to AAPP data, more than 180 people including those currently being tried and under investigation will be freed under the latest amnesty.