Myanmar frees over 70 political prisoners: activists

Myanmar frees over 70 political prisoners: activists

The army-dominated nation, also known as Burma, has released one of its most famous dissident inmates -- comedian Zarganar -- as part of the move, which observers hope will see more prominent activists set free.

"So far we have received information about over 70 political prisoners included in the release. I think we will see some more," said Aung Khaing Min of the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP).

The freedom of an estimated 2,000 political prisoners, including pro-democracy campaigners, journalists, monks and lawyers, has long been a key demand of Western powers that have slapped sanctions on Myanmar.

Aung Khaing Min said that AAPP had received information that a famous dissident monk known as U Gambira may be one of those released under the current amnesty.

U Gambira was a founding member of the All Burma Monks' Alliance, which was crucial in getting thousands of monks into the streets in a 2007 protest dubbed the "Saffron Revolution" that ended in a bloody army crackdown, according to AAPP.

"We have heard that he is in the release list but we cannot confirm if he is out or not. We are still confirming," Aung Khaing Min said.

A mass pardon of dissidents would be arguably the clearest sign yet of change under a new government that has reached out to critics including Suu Kyi, who was freed in November after seven straight years of detention.

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