YANGON - Thirty-five political prisoners, including members of armed ethnic groups, remain in prison despite the presidential amnesty because of charges for other offences, according to a member of the Remaining Political Prisoners Scrutiny Committee (RPPSC).
President Thein Sein granted a general amnesty on Monday for political prisoners, including those under court trials and official investigations for political offences.
"According to the list of the political prisoners we have made, they were imprisoned by the previous military junta mostly for political offences as well as other offences. The 35 prisoners on our list are still behind bars for other offences although they have been granted the latest presidential pardon related to political offences. So they won't be released today," Ye Aung, a member of RPPSC, said on Tuesday.
Ye Aung added that the 35 remained in prison because of their political activities, although they have been charged with other offences, but are expected to be released soon as an agreement has been reached.
"These 35 prisoners are related to ethnic organisations and armed groups. They include the Karen National Union, All Burma Students Democratic Front, Kachin Independence Army and Shan rebels," he said. "The government granted amnesty as it had promised that there would be no political prisoners by the end of the year. So, we hope that as we have already discussed, the remaining prisoners will be released. I want to urge the government to keep its promise."
On Tuesday, five political prisoners from Yangon, Mawlamyine, and Taunggyi prisons and about 120 more detainees under court trials were released under the presidential amnesty. The list of those released from other regions across the country is still being compiled, reports say.
"I was charged under Section 505 (b). I appreciate the president for his amnesty. But there are many comrades still in prison.