Dec. 31 - Myanmar releases more political prisoners, in a move to fulfil a promise by its reformist president to free prisoners of conscience by the end of this year. Sarah Toms reports.
With garlands and flowers, hundreds of friends and relatives gathered outside a prison in Myanmar's capital to welcome the return of two political prisoners. Yan Naing Tun and Aung Min Naing were released as part of a year end amnesty, with more prisoners expected to be freed later in the day. (SOUNDBITE) (Burmese) RELEASED POLITICAL PRISONER, YAN NAING TUN SAYING: "Even though they (the government) said this is amnesty, this is not amnesty for us. They are trying to hide the weakness of the legislature by doing this. But I respect Mr President since he kept his promise because he had not ever kept his promise before." It is not clear how many prisoners will be released or how many political prisoners are in the country. During the military's final years in power, as many as 2,500 people, including activists, journalists, and even comedians were under detention. Many of these prisoners were subjected to torture and other inhumane treatment. Myanmar, has freed hundreds of political detainees, like these, since steps towards democracy began in 2010. The government has pledged to release all prisoners of conscience by the end of the year. In response, the EU, United States and other Western countries have increased aid and investment and suspended most sanctions.