Burma’s president pardons 44 political prisoners
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Burma’s president pardons 44 political prisoners

YANGON, Burma (AP) — Burma’s president has pardoned 44 political prisoners, coinciding with the country’s hosting of the Southeast Asian Games.

The majority of those freed Wednesday were activists charged under a peaceful assembly law that sets a maximum one-year prison term to people who protest without permission.

(MORE: Why are more than 250 activists facing trial in Burma?)

Bo Kyi, a member of the Political Prisoner Scrutiny Committee, which recommends people to be released, said about 50 political prisoners remain detained. More than 1,000 had been previously freed.

The continued detention of political prisoners in Burma has been a concern of the U.S. and other Western nations that want to promote the country’s transition to democracy following a half-century of military rule.

Burma is using the Southeast Asian Games, which run from Dec. 1-22, to showcase its transformation from international outcast to fledgling democracy.