Myanmar’s government is releasing 73 political prisoners, a government representative told Reuters on Tuesday, with more releases scheduled for coming months.
Thein Sein, Myanmar's president, who has overseen political and economic reforms since a military government stepped down in 2011, has already freed hundreds of political prisoners.
He pledged in a speech before a British audience last week that he’d free all political prisoners by the end of 2013.
“The total number of remaining political prisoners has now dropped to lower than 100 for the first time in many years,” Hla Maung Shwe, a member of the Committee to Scrutinise Remaining Political Prisoners, told Reuters.
“We expect the remaining political prisoners will be freed by the end of this year as the president said during his recent visit to Europe,” he said.
Myanmar's government, diplomatic embassies and nonprofit organizations have different estimates for the number of Myanmar's political prisoners.
The 19-member committee, of which Shwe is a member, includes 10 former political prisoners, six government appointees and three mediators.
The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma) has welcomed Sein’s policies, but it urged him to extend the power of the committee so people now facing charges or trial on political grounds have their political charges dropped.