April 17 (UPI) — Newly-elected Myanmar President Win Myint granted amnesty to more than 8,500 prisoners on Tuesday, including dozens of political prisoners.
In a statement, Burma’s Presidential Office said the move was to “bring peace and pleasure to people’s heart and for the sake of humanitarian support.
The Burma representative for Assistance Association for Political Prisoners said the organization petitioned for the release of 44 political prisoners and 36 were released.
“This amnesty is very good news and we welcome and support it, but there should not be a single political prisoner in a democratic country,” the representative said, according to the Asian Correspondent.
In addition to political prisoners, two Christian pastors — Dumdaw Nawng Lat, 65, Langjaw Gam Seng, 35 — who were convicted for defaming the military after helping journalists report on the destruction of a church by military airstrike, were also released as part of the amnesty.
“Now we are free and we feel happy… I hope our land will be peaceful in the future so this kind of thing would not happen again,” Langjaw Gam Seng said, according to the Telegraph.
Despite the amnesty, two Reuters journalists who helped expose a mass burial ground where the bodies of Rohingya people killed by the Burmese military, remain in prison.
Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo could face 14 years in prison but their trial is pending and they have not been convicted. Tuesday’s amnesty was only available for prisoners who have already been convicted.