Burma Frees Thousands in Nod to United Nations

Amnesty frees over 8,500, though uncertain if they include protesters
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 4, 2007 3:29 AM CST
Soldiers arrest three men along a street in Yangon in a crackdown against pro-democracy protesters in this Sept. 29, 2007 file photo.The junta has freed thousands of prisoners but it's not certain as...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Burma's military junta has freed 8,585 prisoners but it's not clear if any of those arrested in September's crackdown are among them, AP reports. Burmese state media said the amnesty was to mark progress on drafting a new constitution, and a gesture to the United Nations. Similar amnesties in the past have freed common criminals rather than political prisoners.

The country's military rulers say that drafting a constitution is part of their "road map to democracy," but it has been slammed as a sham designed to preserve officials' grip on power. Work on the constitution began earlier this week after a 15-year wait for guidelines— which include barring detained democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi from power.