Myanmar authorities began moving several prominent political detainees to facilities closer to their families on Wednesday and those due to be freed will be released gradually, a Home Ministry official said.
Among those being transferred were Min Ko Naing, a still influential leader of the 1988 uprising that the then military government crushed, prominent monk activist Shin Gambiya and Khun Tun Oo, the leader of an ethnic Shan political movement.
We have now started transferring some prominent prisoners to new places, a senior Home Ministry official told Reuters.
Asked if another amnesty would take place, he said: Things are in the process. Now we are transferring those who will not be freed. Then the release of others will happen gradually.
A senior official said on Sunday Myanmar's government was preparing to release political prisoners under an amnesty, for the second time in just over a month, very soon and details would be made available within two days.
Myanmar new civilian government, which took office in March 30, freed about 230 political detainees in a general amnesty on October 12. The West welcomed the move as a sign that genuine reforms could be underway after five decades of strict, at time brutal, military rule.
The release of all political prisoners has long been a key demand by the West in order to have sanctions reviewed. However, experts believe the government may be concerned that some could pose a security threat if freed, particularly those who were members of ethnic rebel groups.
President Thein Sein, who many diplomats believe has a reformist agenda, travelled to the Indonesian island of Bali on Wednesday to attend the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit.
Analysts believe a release of more prisoners during the summit would boost Myanmar's chances of taking the rotating ASEAN presidency in 2014, two years ahead of schedule.
Acceptance by ASEAN, continued engagement with democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and improvements in Myanmar's dire human rights record would strengthen its case for support from international financial institutions.
(Writing by Martin Petty; Editing by Sugita Katyal)