Yangon, Jul 3: Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday called for stronger demands seeking release of hundreds of political prisoners. The National League for Democracy (NLD) leader raised her demand after the state-run newspaper, New Light of Myanmar, reported that President Thein Sein has granted amnesty to 46 prisoners who were expected to be freed by Tuesday. "More political prisoners need to be freed," she said. Nine of those granted amnesty are women. Reports said the release was being made on humanitarian grounds.
Over 20 of those prisoners receiving amnesty are prisoners of conscience, said Ko Ko Gyi, a former political prisoner and an iconic student leader. Former student activist Aye Aung, who was serving a 59-year sentence for taking part in the 1998 pro-democracy protesting, also was one among the prisoners.
Ko Ko Gyi, who expressed happiness at the government's decision, said they would strive towards the release of all political prisoners.
According to the Human Rights Watch, no less than 659 political prisoners have been released in the past one year as part of the remarkable series of reforms that the nation has undertaken. Human rights bodies said still many political prisoners are languishing in the government custody and their number varies between 200 to 600. The NLD, however, said the number is 330.
Suu Kyi herself was kept under house arrest by the authorities from 1989 till 2010 and her recent two-week tour of Europe was the first overseas journey in 24 years. It was at her first public appearance after the Europe trip that she spoke in favour of the prisoners' release.