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Asia-Pacific

Myanmar releases first batch of amnestied prisoners

media Relations of prisoners wait outside Insein Prison gate in Yangon on Wednesday Reuters/Soe Zeya Tun

Myanmar on Wednesday freed about 120 political prisoners, the first of 6,300 detainees who are to benefit from an amnesty announced on Tuesday.

"As far as I know, about 120 political prisoners have been released. We are still compiling the list," said Nyan Win, spokesperson of long-term dissident Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy.

State television announced on Tuesday that more than 6,300 elderly, sick, disabled or well-behaved prisoners would be granted an amnesty from Wednesday "on humanitarian grounds".

It said freeing detainees would allow them to "help to build a new nation".

Not all those freed will be political prisoners, who, according to Amnesty International, have endured "torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading
treatment".

President Thein Sein, a former general and senior junta figure, has surprised critics by signalling a series of political reforms since taking power following a controversial election last November.

Last month the government scrapped a dam project, saying the the move was because of public opposition.

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