[JURIST] Myanmar state media outlets announced Tuesday that the state's ruling junta released 9,002 prisoners for good behavior, including U Win Tin [BBC report; AI backgrounder], a founder of Myanmar opposition group the National League for Democracy (NLD) and the state's longest-incarcerated political prisoner. Officials for the state newspaper New Light of Myanmar wrote:
The government terminated the prison terms of 9,002 prisoners with good conduct and discipline for social consideration of their families and released from the respective jails on 23 September 2008 to enable them to serve the interests of the regions and their own and the fair election to be held in 2010 together with the people after realizing the government's loving kindness and goodwill.The release follows last month's imprisonment [JURIST report] of five NLD protesters, and NLD officials have questioned how many of the 9,002 released are political prisoners. Amnesty International (AI) applauded the release [press release], stating that at least seven political prisoners were released, but also noted that the status of the remaining 2,100 was still unknown. AFP has more. BBC News has additional coverage.
In July, 14 members of the NLD were charged [DPA report] with causing political unrest by staging a protest outside NLD headquarters where they shouted slogans calling for the release of NLD party leader Aung San Suu Kyi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive]. The demonstration took place on June 19, Suu Kyi's 63rd birthday. Suu Kyi has spent 12 of the past 18 years in prison or under house arrest for alleged violations of an anti-subversion law [text]. The military junta extended [JURIST report] Suu Kyi's house arrest into a sixth year in May, sparking an international outcry and demonstrations by the NLD.