The recent release of at least 130 political prisoners in Burma - including well-known dissidents Htay Kywe, U Khun Htun Oo, Min Ko Naing, and U Gambira - is a significant move.
The prisoner amnesty is the second this year and the fourth under Burma's post-election government, bringing the total number of political prisoners released to over 475.
Wai Hnin's father Mya Aye was serving a 65-year prison sentence for speaking out against the authorities in 2009, and was one of the notorious Generation '88 leaders. You can watch our 2009 interview with Wai Hnin on our Facebook page.
Mya Aye is now free, and Wai Hnin has spoken to him. He's in good spirits! When Wai Hnin was interviewed the BBC's Today programme, she was asked if Mya Aye would be careful and keep a low profile. She almost laughed as she dismissed the idea: “He suggested that we progress our campaigning together”, she said.
With that kind of defiance, it's clear that despite what they have suffered in Burma's appalling detention centres, the country's human rights activists are determined to see Burma move toward genuine democracy.
The country's human rights activists are determined to see Burma move toward genuine democracy.
Dozens of reunions just like this one are taking place across Burma. This brilliant piece in UK newspaper The Guardian highlights other reunions.
But with more than 1,000 political prisoners still behind bars, the Burmese government needs to go further and dismantle the entire apparatus of suppression.
This latest release is a major step forward, but the gates must open even wider to all remaining prisoners of conscience.
- Burma: Political prisoner release 'major step' but gates must open 'even wider', news release, 14 January 2012.
- Prison doors open in Burma, blog, 19 October 2011.