Insein prison, Rangoon, Burma (18 May, 2009)
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Burma prisoner amnesty announcement 'a welcome move'

State media in Burma have announced an amnesty for more than 6,300 prisoners.

It is not clear if this includes political detainees, but the announcement came hours after a human rights panel appointed by the military-backed government said prisoners of conscience should be freed.

Dr Maung Zarni, visiting research fellow at the London School of Economics, told the BBC World Service he thought it was "a welcome move".

However he said that Burma has been "under various types of military dictatorship since 1962, almost half a century".

"So the excitement that comes from this news... shows we have lowered our bar of expectations to the point that even one significant development can create wild excitement and sometimes unwarranted optimism".

"I am optimistic but I am also very cautious," he added.