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Myanmar pardons 8,500 prisoners in holiday amnesty

AFP  |  Yangon 

Myanmar's today announced pardons for more than 8,500 prisoners, including three dozen jailed in political cases, as part of an annual marking the country's traditional new year.

Win Myint, who took office last month after his predecessor suddenly resigned, said the pardons would be granted on humanitarian grounds during the Buddhist new year festival known as Thingyan.

The was extended mostly to drug offenders, as well as more than 50 foreigners and 36 political prisoners, according to a breakdown posted on by government

Aung Myo Kyaw, for an NGO that helps political prisoners, welcomed the but called for the release of at least eight more prisoners of conscience who remain in jail.

Around 200 others in are facing trials linked to political activities, said from the

"The government can help them by cancelling the cases from the courts," he told AFP.

has freed thousands from its jails since a military junta ceded power in 2011 after five decades of brutal repression.

Hundreds of political prisoners were released shortly after the civilian government of former democracy activist took office in 2016 following a sweeping election victory. But hopes of a new era of free expression have been dampened by a surge in prosecutions under a online defamation in recent years.

The arrest of two journalists working for has raised global alarm over worsening in the fledgling democracy.

The reporters, and Kyaw Soe Oo, face up to 14 years in prison under the Secrets Act, which bars possessing classified documents.

They were arrested in December while reporting on Myanmar security officers' role in the extrajudicial killings of 10 Rohingya men in Rakhine state, where troops are accused of waging an ethnic cleansing campaign against the Muslim minority.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, April 17 2018. 14:05 IST