Myanmar to release 3,000 prisoners to aid 'stability'

A man shows a letter of amnesty after he was released from Insein prison in Yangon on January 3, 2014 Image copyright SOE THAN WIN
Image caption There have been several amnesties granted to prisoners over the last few years

The Myanmar government has announced it is releasing more than 3,000 prisoners.

An update on the Information Minister's U Ye Htut's Facebook page said President Thein Sein had pardoned them for the sake of peace and stability.

BBC Myanmar correspondent Jonah Fisher says early indications are that some of those to be released are former military intelligence officers.

Most political prisoners in Myanmar (also known as Burma) have been released as part of the reform process.

Human rights groups estimate a few hundred are still being held.

President Thein Sein, who won power in 2010 in elections which saw military rule replaced with a military-backed civilian government, has pledged to release all political prisoners.

Most of those to be released in this latest batch are thought to be people convicted of committing minor crimes.

The BBC's Jonah Fisher in Yangon (also known as Rangoon) reports that the former military intelligence officers are reputed to have been close to former Prime Minister Khin Nyunt. When he was purged from power 10 years ago, they were detained with him. He was ultimately released in 2012.

In recent years media restrictions in Myanmar have also been relaxed and the opposition has rejoined the political process. In response, most international sanctions against Burma were loosened.

However, human rights groups have consistently called for every last political prisoner to be released and said that it is unclear exactly how many are still in custody.

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