Myanmar 'to free some prisoners'

Some political prisoners to be freed, but no word if that includes Aung San Suu Kyi.

    Rights groups say more than 2,000 political prisoners are held in Myanmar's jails [AFP]

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    Myanmar's government will "implement all appropriate recommendations that [the] secretary-general had proposed. So, no Security Council action is warranted".

    The announcement of the prisoner release is apparently an attempt by Myanmar's government to avoid further UN sanctions amid mounting international frustration at the political stalemate in Myanmar.

    According to human rights groups more than 2,000 political prisoners are being held in Myanmar's jails or under house arrest.

    Briefing

    Monday's Security Council meeting was called to hear a briefing from the UN secretary-general on the outcome of his recent two-day visit to the country.

    During the trip, Ban met Myanmar's military chief, Senior General Than Shwe, on two occasions but failed to obtain permission to meet Aung San Suu Kyi who is on trial inside Yangon's Insein prison on charges of violating her house arrest.

    After his visit Ban had expressed disappointment that the military government had provided no guarantees that they would release Aung San Suu Kyi, or that it would follow UN recommendations for democratising a nation that has been under military rule since 1962.

    Myanmar's ambassador did not say if Aung San Suu Kyi would be among those freed [AFP]

    But the UN chief told the 15-nation council's members that he went because virtually no other world leader could gain the ruling generals' attention.

    During his visit Ban was told he would not be allowed to meet Aung San Suu Kyi as it would interfere with the judicial process of her trial.

    On Friday the final defence witness in the closed-doors trial gave testimony, arguing that the opposition leader and Nobel peace laureate was innocent because the charges were based on a constitution abolished two decades ago.

    Aung San Suu Kyi is charged with violating the terms of her house arrest by harbouring an uninvited American man who swam secretly to her lakeside home and stayed for two days.

    No date has been given for a verdict, but she faces up to five years in jail if found guilty.

    The trial has drawn international condemnation, while opposition supporters have said the charges have been trumped up by the military to keep Aung San Suu Kyi out of next year's elections.

    Suu Kyi has been in detention for nearly 14 of the last 20 years, mostly at her Yangon residence.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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