[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Languages
Last Updated: Sunday, 12 December, 2004, 12:56 GMT
Burmese junta releases dissidents
Ousted Prime Minister Khin Nyunt
Nyunt is being blamed for the arrests
Two senior pro-democracy activists are among over 5,000 prisoners being freed from jail in Burma over the weekend.

The military jailed Htwe Myint and Thu Wai, both in their seventies, in 1995 for distributing opposition pamphlets.

A TV message said the inmates were arrested by the now disbanded National Intelligence Bureau led by ousted Prime Minister Khin Nyunt.

The latest move brings to 14,318 the total number of prisoners ordered released following a November amnesty.

Meanwhile, opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi remains under house arrest and has had her detention extended until next September.

Unlikely threat

The two activists, both leading members of Burma's democracy party, are now believed to be at home with their families.

However BBC regional analyst Tony Cheng says there is little sign that the country's military rulers will be relaxing their grip on power.

Those released are all in poor health and are unlikely to pose a major threat to the ruling generals, he adds.

Khin Nyunt, who is under house arrest, was ousted on 19 October by Than Shwe, head of the junta, in what was seen as a consolidation of his power.

Within days, the intelligence bureau, which gave officers loyal to Khin Nyunt widespread powers and benefits, was abolished.

The human rights group Amnesty International estimates that there were 1,350 political detainees in 2004, many associated with Aung Sang Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy.

The junta says it is not holding any political prisoners.


RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific