By T Navajyoti
The Burma president Thein Sein has been criticized for ‘playing games with the lives of political prisoners’ by many pro-democracy organizations. Burma Campaign UK had lastly accused the President for allegedly ‘using the political prisoners as pawns in his efforts to persuade the international community to lift sanctions’.
“An unknown number of political prisoners, thought to be less than 100, have been released this week ahead of Thein Sein’s visit to the USA. For decades the dictatorship in Burma employed a tactic of releasing some political prisoners ahead of important international summits or at times when there were discussions on increasing sanctions. Thein Sein, who from 1997 was one of the most senior
members of the dictatorship, is continuing to use this tactic, said a statement issued by Burma Campaign UK.
It also asserts that even after 18 months of his Presidentship, Thein Sein has not released sufficient number of political prisoners.
Moreover the President has not abolished any of the laws which were used to arrest and jail them.
Wai Hnin Pwint Thon, campaigns officer at Burma Campaign UK said that these releases are not about reform, they are about providing a fig leaf for President Barak Obama for him to justify lifting more sanctions, despite the fact that Burma is still not a democracy and still has one of the worst human rights records in the world.
“While U Thein Sein has released hundreds of political prisoners, most have only been released conditionally, face travel restrictions, and have received no compensation or even an apology. U Thein Sein has never acknowledged that they should never have been jailed in the first place. At the same time as these political prisoners have been released, hundreds of people have been arrested in Kachin and Rakhine State. Exact numbers are not known, but could easily be greater than the number of those released,” he added.