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(Washington, D.C.) — Amnesty International USA released the following statement in response to breaking news reports that the government of Myanmar (Burma) has decided to release 450 prisoners on the eve of the historic visit of President Obama to Rangoon. It is unclear at this time whether Prisoners of Conscience may be among those being released, and if so, whether they will remain in legal jeopardy, subject to re-arrest if they speak out against the government. Amnesty International USA will continue to monitor the situation.
"Amnesty has been calling for the immediate release of all Prisoners of Conscience in Myanmar. The potential for President Obama's trip to leverage change is clear - it is up to him to use his visit to press for the freeing of all prisoners of conscience and urgent steps to uphold the rights of Myanmar's ethnic minorities, including the Rohingya Muslims of Rakhine state, who lack legal status and are subject to gross abuses that have escalated in recent months,” said Suzanne Nossel, Executive Director of AIUSA. “As he opens the door to U.S. businesses now able to enter Myanmar due to the lifting of sanctions, the President must also stress the importance of respecting their human rights obligations, and the need to put the human rights of the Burmese people ahead of corporate profits."
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.