Asia

Burma frees a further 73 political prisoners

Chit Thura Ko Ko, a Myanmar political prisoner who was released from Insein Prison after receiving amnesty from Myanmar's President Thein Sein, talks to journalists outside the entrance of the prison Tuesday, July 23, 2013, in Yangon, Myanmar.
Image caption Chit Thura Ko Ko was released from Insein Prison

The Burmese authorities say they are releasing another 73 political prisoners, after a promise by President Thein Sein to free all dissidents by the end of the year.

Some are from the Kachin ethnic group, which has signed a peace deal after years of fighting for autonomy.

Burma, also known as Myanmar, has freed hundreds of political detainees since steps towards democracy began in 2010.

There are thought to be about 100 such prisoners remaining in Burmese jails.

"Political prisoners are released today under a presidential amnesty," government minister Aung Min told BBC Burmese. The detainees had been held at various jails around the country.

The minister said 26 Kachin nationals were among those freed. "Thirteen of them were released from Myit Kyee Nar prison, where I met them myself," he said.

Earlier this month President Thein Sein said there would be no prisoners of conscience in the country's jails by the end of the year.

Speaking on a visit to London, he said a special committee was reviewing every political inmate's case.

President Thein Sein has introduced major reforms since the elections of November 2010, which saw military rule replaced by a military-backed civilian government.

Many political prisoners have been freed and media restrictions have been relaxed, while the opposition has rejoined the political process.

In response, most international sanctions against Burma have been relaxed.