Swiss welcome Myanmar prisoner release

The foreign ministry has welcomed the release of a “large number” of political prisoners in Myanmar, according to a statement on Thursday.

This content was published on October 13, 2011 - 18:10 and agencies

It also called on Myanmar’s government to free all political prisoners quickly and unconditionally, as well as to take measures to boost human rights and develop democracy and the rule of law.

Around ten per cent of an estimated 2,000 prisoners were released under a presidential amnesty on Wednesday. The move had been eagerly awaited by Myanmar's opposition, as well as foreign governments and the United Nations, as a gesture toward liberalisation by the elected government after decades of harsh military rule.

The Swiss foreign ministry statement said that the release was an important step towards national reconciliation, democracy and human rights. It added that it recognised that the Myanmar government wanted to undertake economic reforms to increase prosperity and social justice and urged it to continue – also with political reforms. It said that national and international collaboration was needed for this.

“Switzerland is ready to accompany Myanmar in this transition and is currently studying concrete ways of doing this,” the statement said.

The foreign ministry said that reconciliation would require an end to ethnic conflicts. It concluded its statement by calling on the government and ethnic groups to establish an immediate ceasefire and to begin constructive negotiations.

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