More on Myanmar's prisoners of conscience: political prisoner committee to continue

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Democratic Voice of Burma has great coverage on human rights issues in Myanmar (which, as you might guess from its name, it continues to refer to as Burma). I personally have been following the issue of its prisoners of conscience very closely, since Aung San Suu Kyi (the country's opposition leader and Nobel Peace laureate, back when the Nobel Peace prize actually meant something) has made it one of her primary concerns regarding the country's reform and return to civilian rule.

President Thein Sein declared amnesty for all political prisoners at the end of last year, and claims to have released them all, but rights groups are claiming there are still a handful behind bars, many held on other (read: fraudulent) charges. Now, in the latest from the government, its Committee for Scrutinizing Remaining Political Prisoners (CSRPP) will continue its work (despite the government's claim that all prisoners of conscience have been freed), "just in case."
President’s Office Minister and Committee Chairman Soe Thane, in keeping with official statements that all prisoners of conscience had been freed by the end of 2013, said that the CSRPP will continue so that, “if something happens, the committee will be ready,” according to Bo Kyi, who added that the government has not conceded that any other activists are still in detention.

The AAPP-B [Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in Burma], which has maintained a roster of current political prisoners since 2000, says that upwards of 33 prisoners of conscience are still behind bars, despite the government’s insistence that they have all been freed.

The CSRPP was established in early 2013, just prior to President Thein Sein’s June 2013 promise to free all dissidents by the end of the year.

Complete amnesty for political prisoners was a common condition among Western governments for lifting decades-long sanctions imposed on the former military-ruled country.

While a series of presidential pardons have been welcomed by the international community and Burmese activists alike – nearly 1,200 political prisoners have been released since May 2011, 57 in December alone – political and human rights groups have shown reluctance to reward the government.

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