Myanmar pardoned more than 500 prisoners on Monday in an amnesty that included political detainees,according to the opposition party,a step that could strengthen the former military states growing bonds with Washington.
A government bulletin announcing the news on state television did not make clear if any of those affected were political inmates. But Naing Naing,an official of Aung San Suu Kyis National League for Democracy (NLD) party,said he was hopeful the amnesty included the countrys 424 remaining political prisoners.
Were optimistic that these are the remaining political prisoners, said Naing Naing,a former political prisoner. He said the NLD had received word that political prisoners had been amnestied from the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP),a Thai-based group that tracks prisoners in Myanmar,also known as Burma.
Bo Kyi,secretary-general of the AAPP,said political prisoners were among those who had been pardoned,but the organisation needed more time to be confirmed.
The timing of the amnesty is significant,coming days ahead of a visit to the United States by Myanmars reformist President,Thein Sein.
The United States has repeatedly called for all remaining dissidents to be freed as a pre-condition for further economic rewards.
In Washington,the US State Department reacted cautiously to the news and said it would monitor events to see whether any political prisoners were in fact released. We have seen reports that the Government of Burma has announced that 514 prisoners will be granted Presidential Amnesty on humanitarian grounds, said a State Department spokeswoman.
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