Asia

Myanmar court frees dozens of student activists

Student activist Ei Thinzar Maung (C) greets her relative during a trial at the TharYarwaddy district court in Bago division, Myanmar, 08 April 2016 Image copyright EPA
Image caption The students were in detention for over a year

Dozens of student activists have been freed from prison in Myanmar, a day after Aung San Suu Kyi pledged to work to free all political prisoners.

Cheers broke out as a court dropped charges against the 69 students, who had been in detention for over a year.

However, an estimated 400 political prisoners are still behind bars.

Ms Suu Kyi, Myanmar's de facto leader, said the release of the remaining prisoners had been delayed by the legal process required.

The delay means they will not be freed until after the end of the Burmese New Year holiday, in 10 days time.

There were emotional scenes as the student activists were released - many were met by tearful parents, and singing and dancing supporters who presented them with flowers.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Many cried as they were reunited with their families
Image copyright EPA
Image caption The mothers of the activists danced after their children were released

The students were arrested during protests against educational reforms in March last year.

The families of Myanmar's political prisoners gathered outside prisons and courts on Friday, hoping their loved ones would be freed.

Ms Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy won 80% of contested seats in the elections last year, ending decades of military rule.

However, a quarter of parliamentary seats are automatically held by the military, meaning it remains hugely influential.

Ms Suu Kyi was once a political prisoner herself, as were many members of her NLD party.