France urges Myanmar to release all political prisoners

12th October 2011, Comments 0 comments

France welcomed Myanmar's decision to release dozens of political prisoners as "a step forward" on Wednesday but urged the country's military-dominated regime to free all detained dissidents.

"It's a step forward. We want all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience to be released," foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said.

France expects "more than ever the pursuit and development" of democratic reforms in Myanmar, he said in a statement.

"We continue to follow the situation in Myanmar with great attention and hope to see positive steps confirmed and continued, so that Myanmar can finally return to the place it deserves within the international community," he said.

Activists said Wednesday that Myanmar had released more than 180 political prisoners, including one of its most famous comedians, in a tentative sign of change in the authoritarian state after decades of repression.

But rights groups criticised the hugely anticipated amnesty as insufficient as the regime kept some 2,000 political detainees -- including democracy campaigners, journalists, monks and lawyers -- locked up.

Comedian Zarganar, one of Myanmar's most famous dissidents, was among those released, along with some members of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) party.

© 2011 AFP

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