More than 6.000 prisoners will be released by Myanmar

On Tuesday, 11th October, Myanmar announced the release of thousands of prisoners for humanitarian reasons. This decision strengthens the hopes of amnesty for 2000 political prisoners arrested, among which include political activists, lawyers, journalists, and artists. The United States, the European Union, the United Nations and the Burmese democratic opposition petitioned their release for years, particularly after the establishment of the new government. This decision appears as a breaking-point with the past conservatism of General Than Shwe, head of the military junta, person in charge since 1962, as commented Egreteau Renaud, professor at the Center for Asian Studies, University of Hong Kong. His successor, former President and General Thein Sein, in power since last March, has demonstrated his willingness to make significant reforms in the country.  The first step has been to open a dialogue with opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace Prize recipient, in prison and under house arrest for more than fifteen years.

Moreover, at the end of September, the President suspended the dam project, financed by Chinese government, due to unwillingness of the Myanmar people to support the new project, and also created a National Commission for Human Rights. Certainly the international pressure by the United States and Europe played an important role in this wave of change that affected especially the Burmese military. A new generation of generals and officers suggests a different future for the country and recognized the importance of dialogue with other States. Since the political prisoners were released, Western Countries should take a step toward Burma, perhaps through the suspension of economic sanctions that weighed on the country’s economy for years.