Myanmar opposition frustrated by prisoner amnesty


Myanmar faced calls on Thursday to free its remaining political prisoners as the opposition expressed disappointment with a much-anticipated amnesty that left most key dissidents behind bars.
The regime pardoned more than 200 political detainees, according to Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), but kept most of its roughly 2,000 political detainees locked up.
“There are still many prisoners who we expected to be released and who the people expected to be released. We feel frustrated,” Nyan Win, spokesman for Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party said.
Some observers, however, said the amnesty could be one of several by a regime that appears eager to end its international isolation but is also wary of possible unrest involving newly released dissidents.
“It is important to see this as part of an ongoing effort of reforms across the country,” said Jim Della-Giacoma, Southeast Asia project director at the think-tank International Crisis Group.
“This will be part of a series of releases,” he said. “The president seems very committed to the ambitious reform agenda he announced in March, and he is moving at a pace that is surprising for many.”
Many activists have criticised the new nominally civilian government for not freeing more political inmates, who include democracy campaigners, journalists, monks and lawyers.