Ban welcomes prisoner release and other important moves by Myanmar authorities

13 January 2012 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has commended the authorities in Myanmar on the long-awaited release of political prisoners today, as well as other important efforts being made to advance democracy and national reconciliation.

Mr. Ban called the release – reportedly of 651 prisoners in all, including a number of key, prominent figures – “the most significant release to date” in a statement issued by his spokesperson.

“The Secretary-General commends the Myanmar leadership for this important development and hopes that all those released will now be able to freely contribute to the process of national reconciliation, as well as to the strengthening of democracy and the rule of law within Myanmar,” said the statement.

Mr. Ban also noted the important efforts being made by the Myanmar authorities for renewed peace with the armed ethnic groups, including yesterday’s preliminary ceasefire between the authorities and the Karen National Union as well as the initial peace agreements with other groups.

“He welcomes these efforts and encourages all concerned to build on recent progress and to work, through an all-inclusive dialogue, for an end to hostilities throughout the country, national reconciliation, stability and development for all the people of Myanmar,” the statement added.

The latest moves by the authorities of the South-east Asian nation are the continuation of reform efforts begun last year by President Thein Sein following the establishment of a new Government. These include an ongoing dialogue between the Government and pro-democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and the release in October of a significant number of detainees.