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Clemency in Myanmar falls short of expectations

Associated Press

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YANGON // Myanmar plans to reduce the sentences of many prisoners, the government said, in a clemency that fell short of the general amnesty many people were expecting.

State television and radio said the president, Thein Sein, signed a clemency order to mark the country's 64th anniversary of independence.

They said death sentences will be commuted to life imprisonment and some prisoners serving more than 30 years will have their sentences cut to 30 years. Prisoners sentenced to 20 to 30 years will have their terms reduced to 20 years, while those serving less than 20 years will have their sentences cut by a quarter.

It was not immediately clear how many prisoners would be affected or whether the order would apply to all political detainees. Some former student activists serving 65-year terms were included in the clemency.

Last week, state-run media reported that the government-appointed National Human Rights Commission had appealed to Thein Sein to issue a general amnesty.

The president has pushed forward reforms since taking office last March, following decades of repression under previous military regimes. His government is still dominated by a military proxy party, but changes have been made in areas such as media, the internet and political participation.

More than 6,000 prisoners, including about 200 political detainees, received an amnesty last October.

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