BURMA STATE MEDIA this week announced it would free hundreds of prisoners on “humanitarian” grounds, the latest in a string of inmate releases in the former junta-ruled nation.
Television news reported that President Thein Sein “gives amnesty for a total of 514 prisoners” in a rare breaking news update. It is believed that over 50 of these are political prisoners.
The report, which said the release included “foreign prisoners from the prisons around the country”, came as the president is set to visit China.
It said the pardons came into effect from Monday of this week and are aimed at the “stability of the state and eternal peace, by respecting humanitarian grounds… and also to have friendship and goodwill in relations with neighbouring countries.”
Burma has a large population of immigrant workers from China, who are employed in a wide variety of Chinese-funded projects in the impoverished nation.
Thein Sein will visit China until 22 September and is then set to embark on a trip to the United States to attend a United Nations General Assembly on 24 September.
Myanmar has granted amnesty to hundreds of political prisoners as part of reforms that have caused a dramatic thaw in the country’s relations with the West.
Estimates of the exact number of political detainees still in prison vary but democracy groups in July said there were still around 300 activists languishing in jails around the country.