Prisoners in Myanmar

Myanmar’s new government, installed through elections in November, has begun spring housecleaning by beginning to free the country’s political prisoners.

The first wave freed were students, jailed more than a year ago for protesting modifications by the then military government to higher education that the students saw as infringements on academic freedom. The new government, headed by President U Htin Kyaw and led by Aung San Suu Kyi, newly named state counselor acting as an equivalent prime minister, has made the freeing of political prisoners its leading item of business.

There remain at least 526 other prisoners, deemed political, jailed by previous military regimes. It will be a valid test of the credibility of political change in the country to see whether the new government will be able to free them as well.