Suu Kyi Outlines Strategies To Free Political Prisoners

By San Yamin Aung 7 April 2016

RANGOON — Immediately following her appointment as State Counselor, Aung San Suu Kyi announced plans to secure the release of political prisoners and detained activists “as soon as possible.”

On Thursday evening, the President’s Office published the first announcement of the State Counselor’s Office, signed by Aung San Suu Kyi, stating that the release of political prisoners, activists and students, is an urgent priority for the people’s government.

The announcement stated three strategies that the government could use to carry out these measures:

Under both Article 204 (a) of the 2008 Constitution and Article 401 (a) of the criminal procedure code, the president is afforded the “power to grant a pardon” to detainees.

Article 204 (b) of the Constitution suggests that the president can grant amnesty in accordance with the recommendation of the National Defense and Security Council, a powerful executive body which is effectively under army control.

The final legal mechanism outlined is Article 494 of the criminal code which states that, with the approval of the court, the government can withdraw charges in ongoing cases through the legal officers of the township.

“In this time of the Burmese New Year, we will release political prisoners and activists and students who are facing charges as soon as possible by using the first and third ways,” the statement read.

According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), in Burma there are 100 political prisoners currently behind bars and over 400 awaiting trial, including students facing charges for protests where they demanded education reforms.