Yangon. Myanmar’s president has freed 46 people in a general amnesty, state media reported on Tuesday, and at least three were prominent political prisoners according to a pro-democracy activist.
In addition to the 46 Myanmar nationals, authorities freed 34 foreigners under the amnesty, state media said.
Human rights activist Ko Ko Gyi, who was himself only released in January, told Reuters that three of those freed, Than Zaw, Ko Aye Aung and Pyit Phyo Aung, were political prisoners.
Under President Thein Sein’s quasi-civilian government, which took office in March last year, more than 650 political prisoners were freed between May last year and January.
Among the latest, Than Zaw, a former youth member of Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party, had been in prison since 1989 for a bombing that another man had confessed to, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP).
Western countries have renewed engagement with Myanmar since the reformist government took office, and they have urged that all political prisoners be released as a condition for the full lifting of sanctions. Since April, many embargoes have been suspended to encourage reform.
The number of political prisoners still being held in Myanmar remains subject to dispute, and the government has said the delay in releasing them is to distinguish between activists and what it calls terrorists or common criminals.
Suu Kyi’s NLD said last month that it counted 330 political prisoners still in jail. AAPP said there were 471 as of May, including 16 women and 50 Buddhist monks.
State media did not say where the foreigners released under the amnesty were from or give any details of their convictions.