Activists and rights groups are responding cautiously to Burma's latest release of political prisoners, saying hundreds more are still being held despite the government's promise to release them, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a statement on Thursday.
Burmese President Thein Sein's amnesty came a week before he travels to the US to attend the United Nations General Assembly session. Human Rights Watch called for governments to use the UN visit to press him to release all remaining political prisoners and allow international monitors unhindered access to Burma's jails.
The Burmese government this week released 514 prisoners, and activists estimate that around 90 were prisoners of conscience.
It was the fourth amnesty declared in the past year by the Burmese government, which has also eased press restrictions, allowed greater political participation, and signed cease-fire deals with some rebel groups.
But Human Rights Watch said the amnesty falls short of the president's commitment to release all political prisoners.
The New York-based group called for independent monitors to be allowed into Burmese prisons to determine how many political prisoners remain behind bars.
Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi on said Tuesday that her party, the National League for Democracy, estimates there are still 200 political prisoners behind bars. The Nobel laureate, currently on a tour of the United States, said Burma cannot have real democracy until all prisoners of conscience are released.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday that Burma still has “a lot of work to do,” citing the political prisoners that remain in detention, as well as ongoing communal unrest in Rakhine State and other ethnic areas.