Myanmar to release 3,000 prisoners

Oct 07, 2014, 2:49 AM EDT
Myanmar President Thein Sein arrives at the Chancellery to meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on September 3, 2014 in Berlin, Germany.
AFP/Getty Images

An update on the Information Minister's U Ye Htut's Facebook page said President Thein Sein had pardoned them for the sake of peace and stability. The BBC reports:

BBC Myanmar correspondent Jonah Fisher says early indications are that some of those to be released are former military intelligence officers.

Most political prisoners in Myanmar (also known as Burma) have been released as part of the reform process. Human rights groups estimate a few hundred are still being held.

Human rights groups estimate a few hundred are still being held. President Thein Sein, who won power in 2010 in elections which saw military rule replaced with a military-backed civilian government, has pledged to release all political prisoners.

Most of those to be released in this latest batch are thought to be people convicted of committing minor crimes.

Meanwhile, three Myanmar workers based on Koh Tao island off Thailand's Surat Thani coast have accused the police of torturing them to try to extract information about the murder of two British citizens last month, a source said on Monday. The Straits Times reports:

The three men were from a group of six Myanmar workers. The three were released by the police, but two colleagues were arrested and eventually charged with the murders, while the sixth man is believed to have agreed to give evidence against the two who have been charged.

The three men who were released have alleged that the Thai police poured hot water on them. They later met a Myanmar labour leader who took photos of burn wounds on their bodies and sent them to the Myanmar Embassy.

The embassy reportedly said later that it was ready to assist their colleagues who have been charged. The source also quoted the three who were released as citing a policeman's words while they were detained that "this issue will snowball if the Myanmar Embassy has intervened into the detention and (alleged) torture".

Meanwhile, an unnamed Myanmar worker said most migrant workers wanted to stay working on Koh Tao despite their "dread" of the Thai police, as they were sure of their innocence based on verification of DNA collected from the female victim's body would certainly not match theirs.

"But when they are unable to catch the real culprits, the Thai police turned to target Myanmar workers," the source said.