Burma Correspondent: Human rights groups and activists have urged the amnesty granted to 102 prisoners, 52 of whom are political prisoners, by Myanmar on Friday inadequate and urged the government to set free of the remaining political prisoners.
President Thein Sein had granted the pardons just days before the opposition National League For Democracy (NLD) formed the new government over its win in the elections on Nov. 8, 2015.
The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) praised the initiative, but expressed concern for the 50 sectarians who are still in prison, and the 408 awaiting trial “for political actions,” including several students whose protests were violently dispersed by the police in March last year.
The organization also said the pardon has not ended the persecution of sectarians refering the example of the arrest on Tuesday of a former monk, who led the Saffron Revolution in 2007, or the sentencing to six months in prison on Friday of an activist who criticized the army on Facebook.
It was told in AAPP statement, “These actions, and the relatively small number of freed political prisoners, demonstrate that the government continues to harbor resentment and animosity toward those that oppose them”.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) called the political prisoners’ release “limited” and said it was “undermined” by the continuing arrests of activists.
It urged for the release of all the political prisoners and the end of political arrests and trials.
Brad Adams, Asia director, “Amnesties that are followed by the arrest and sentencing of more government critics cannot be called progress – and instead smack of making room in jails for new political prisoners”.
Amnesty International also urged the amnesty far from sufficient and said the latest arrest only hours after the pardon was granted is a “stark reminder of how prevalent repression still is in the country.”
“Amnesties like the one today have little positive long-term effect as long as the same repressive practices fuelling arbitrary arrests and detention of activists continue,” Laura Haigh, Amnesty International’s Myanmar Researcher, said in a statement.
The government of Thein Sein, the former junta’s political heir, has granted several pardons since 2011, when the regime initiated a series of reforms following almost half a century of military dictatorship.
The latest amnesty comes days before the formation of the new parliament on Feb. 1, in which the National League for Democracy, led by Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, with a substantive majority will elect a new president.
Myanmar’s constitution, drawn up by the last junta, prevents Suu Kyi from becoming the head of state and grants veto powers to the military in the legislature, besides control over key ministries.