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Official Statement on 13 January Amnesty

By The Best Friend  •  January 14, 2012

The Best Friend warmly welcomes the release of political prisoners, including many of our friends such as U Gambira, U Ghosita, and U Kheminda, and members of The Best Friend including Ma Thanda Tun and Ko Nyo, as a significant step forward. However, we still have to continue the struggle for complete and irreversible democratic progress, and we ask the international community to continue to support genuine democratization in Burma.

We must be watchful that the government and military do not turn backwards again. We know that the changes we have seen have been the results of the struggle of the people. That is why we have to continue to support the people who are struggling for real democracy. We can not only sit back now and expect an honest change to come from the government.

Many prisoners yesterday were released under the agreement number 401, which they were asked to sign in exchange for their release. Law 401 means that if they are rearrested, they must stay in prison for the remaining time of their original prison term. In a real amnesty there should not be any conditions for freedom, and all political prisoners should be released unconditionally. As long as there are laws and conditions like this, we can not say Burma has true freedom.

In addition, many political prisoners remain behind bars. Rather than releasing all of the political prisoners who have worked for genuine democracy and peace, relatives of former dictator Ne Win, who created a lot of problems for the people, and former spy chief Khin Nyunt and his cronies have been released. Khin Nyunt was the former head of military intelligence and prime minister who was accused and sued for corruption. If the government is ready to forgive corruption at a national level, they should also be ready to forgive all the people who hold different opinions and are still incarcerated as political prisoners.

For genuine change, the government must welcome free speech, include the participation of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the ethnic people of Burma, and establish the rule of law. This will require changes to the current constitution. The 2008 Constitution is deeply undemocratic. According to this constitution, the president of Burma must have military experience. In other words, the president most likely can not be a woman.

The people of Burma need the right to choose their own leaders. Only when the people have the right to choose their own leaders freely can we say that Burma is on an irreversible path to genuine democratization and freedom.

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This post is in: Press Release

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