BURMA’S new civilian president vowed today to continue efforts to release the remaining political prisoners in the country even as he signed a pardon for 83 detainees.
President Htin Kyaw, a long-time confidant of Burma’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, signed the pardon on the country’s New Year’s day.
“The 83 prisoners will be freed by amnesty… on the first day of Myanmar’s New Year,” a presidential statement announced on Facebook today.
The statement described the pardon as designed to “make people feel happy and peaceful, and [promote] national reconciliation during the New Year,” reported Agence France-Presse.
Htin Kyaw recently took over as head of Burma’s (Myanmar’s) first freely elected government after more than 50 years of often brutal military domination or control.
In its first official act at the end of March, the new government freed more than 100 political detainees awaiting trial just before the new year holiday. It isn’t clear exactly how many still remain.
In a televised address to the nation, Htin Kyaw said, “In the New Year, in order to give satisfaction to the majority of the people, we will continue to try to release political prisoners, political activists, and students facing trials related to politics.”
“We also have to try to avoid such arrests in the future,” he said, according to the Associated Press.
The president made the announcement on the Buddhist New Year day known as Thingyan.
Additional reporting by the Associated Press