Myanmar President Thein Sein is being praise for introducing dramatic changes to the country
President Thein Sein granted a pardon to those convicted of or charged with a variety of political offenses, such as unlawful association, high treason, contempt of government and violations of the peaceful assembly law.
This amnesty follows a promise by Thein Sein in July that all political prisoners will be freed by the end of the year.Decree halted all ongoing trials and investigations connected with those charges.
Those freed had their names on list from the Political Prisoners Scrutinizing Committee, said Bo Kyi, a member of the committee. He added that "more people are expected to be freed in the next batch in the first week of January."
"We welcome the presidential pardon order. However, several steps need to be taken to maintain a level of zero political prisoners. There must be rule of law and more political freedom to maintain that level," Bo Kyi said.
The five were freed from district prisons and Yangon's notorious Insein prison.
"We were freed today because the laws that were used to put us behind bars are weak. Anyway, I respect the president for keeping his promise to free political prisoners before end of the year," said Yan Naing Tun, one of several political prisoners freed from Insein prison.
Yan Naing Tun and Aung Min Naing, who led a march to the headquarters of the ethnic Kachin Independence Organization in northern Myanmar early this year, were serving seven-month sentences for breaking the Peaceful Assembly Law because they had not gotten permission for their march.
Ye Aung, a former political prisoner and member of the prisoner scrutinizing committee, said another 200 activists facing trial for political charges will immediately have those charges dropped.
The pardon may not cover all prisoners listed by the committee as political detainees as some were also convicted of other crimes, such as murder, he said.
Since Thein Sein became president, he has freed about 1,300 political prisoners, Ye Aung said.