County Down campaigners celebrate success after Burma prisoner release

Human rights campaigners in County Down are celebrating today as it has been confirmed that three prisoners of conscience for whose release the group have been campaigning are among the dissidents who have been released from jail in Burma.

The Amnesty International Mid-Down Group – whose members come from the Downpatrick, Castlewellan and Newcastle area – are delighted that prisoners of conscience Mie Mie and Htay Kywe are among the hundreds to have been released by the Burmese government. The local human rights campaigners have been working on the men’s cases for several years and this latest good news come just months after the release of Zaw Htet Ko Ko, another prisoner of conscience whom the group had campaigned for and who was released in a prisoner amnesty in October 2011.

Philip Nye, Chairman of the Amnesty International Mid-Down Group, said:

“The news from Burma is tremendous. After years of brutal repression, we are starting to see the winds of change and we are delighted if we have played some small part in contributing to the international pressure.

“We want to thank our MLAs, Down District Councillors, local press and especially the many hundreds of people in and around Downpatrick, Newcastle and Castlewellan who have supported this campaign."

The latest prisoner amnesty is the second this year and the fourth under Burma’s post-elections government, bringing the total number of political prisoners released to at least 477.  But as more than a thousand political prisoners may remain behind bars, many of whom are prisoners of conscience, local campaigners insist that amnesty must continue until all are freed.
“These men should never have been in jail and we hope that their release is a signal that the Burmese people can look forward to a day soon when all their rights are respected.

“We hope we can now look forward to the release of all remaining prisoners of conscience.

“The authorities must finish the job now, once and for all.”

The Amnesty International Mid-Down Group has campaigned for years for the release of various prisoners of conscience in Burma. Their campaign has included letter-writing and postcard campaigns, petitions, film screenings and winning the support of local political representatives.

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