terça-feira, 17 de maio de 2011

Myanmar president announces clemency for prisonersMyanmar president announces clemency for prisonersMyanmar president announces clemency for prisoners

YANGON, Myanmar – Myanmar announced a long-expected clemency program for prisoners on Monday, but its terms are limited and its scope is unclear.
State television and radio reported that President Thein Sein signed a "general amnesty" order on humanitarian grounds commuting death sentences to life imprisonment and cutting one year from convicts' prison terms.
The announcement did not say how many prisoners are covered by the order or if any of the country's more than 2,000 political prisoners will be released.
Nyan Win, a spokesman for democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's political group, said the order was unlikely to benefit political prisoners because most are serving long prison sentences.
"I think this amnesty order is not intended for the political prisoners," he said. Previous mass releases have usually included a handful of political detainees.
U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the amnesty appears to be "conditions based."
"We reiterate our call that all political prisoners be released immediately," he told a news conference in Washington.
The Myanmar government generally grants amnesties to mark important national days, but most recipients are petty criminals. An amnesty had been expected when the country held its first elections in 20 years in November, when parliament convened in January, and then when the nominally civilian government was sworn in at the end of March.
Long-term detainees include prominent student activists such as Min Ko Naing who are serving 65-year prison sentences and politicians from ethnic minority parties such as Shan leader Hkun Htun Oo who have sentences of more than 80 years.
Myanmar has more than 60,000 prisoners in 42 prisons and 109 labor camps. They include more than 2,000 political detainees, according to the U.N. and human rights groups.
The government denies holding any political prisoners, saying all inmates have been found guilty of criminal offenses.
The last amnesty was in September 2009 when the then-ruling military junta granted freedom to 7,114 prisoners for good behavior and on humanitarian grounds.
Myanmar has been under the sway of the army since 1962, and critics charge the transition to civilian rule is a charade that allows continued military rule.

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