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Myanmar frees 8,500 prisoners: report

Military-ruled Myanmar has freed more than 8,500 prisoners, state media announced today, but the opposition party said only 10 political dissidents were among them.

world Updated: Dec 04, 2007 03:28 IST

Military-ruled Myanmar has freed more than 8,500 prisoners, state media announced on Monday, but the opposition party said only 10 political dissidents were among them.

Authorities have freed 8,585 prisoners since mid-November to mark the conclusion of 14 years of constitutional talks at the junta's National Convention, state television said.

The number includes 33 Thai prisoners, the television report said. The opposition National League for Democracy (NLD), headed by detained Nobel peace prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, said it knew of 10 political dissidents who were among those released.

"We know of 10 activists, including NLD members, who were released. We are still checking if there are more," party spokesman Nyan Win told AFP.

Myanmar is believed to hold more than 1,800 political prisoners, including 700 detained over mass pro-democracy protests in September, according to Amnesty International.

The National Convention, which gathered more than 1,000 delegates chosen by the military, finished laying out guidelines for a new constitution in September after 14 years of on-and-off talks.

On Monday, a drafting committee began the work of actually writing a new charter for Myanmar, which the junta says will eventually lead to elections.

The NLD won elections in 1990 in a landslide victory but has never been allowed to govern. Its leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been under house arrest for 12 of the last 18 years.