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Updated 2:12 PM EST, Wed, Jan 29, 2020

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U.S. Calls For Unconditional Release Of Myanmar Political Prisoners

Myanmar President Thein Sein at a launching ceremony for a rural development and social economy improvement program in Yangon, June 2, 2013.

(Photo : REUTERS/SOE ZEYA TUN) Myanmar President Thein Sein at a launching ceremony for a rural development and social economy improvement program in Yangon, June 2, 2013.

The United States has called for the full release of all of Myanmar's political prisoners after President Thein Sein granted amnesty to some 3,073 people on Tuesday as part of reforms since the country's liberation from military rule in 2011.

While Washington has acknowledged the large-scale pardon, it is urging Myanmar to continue efforts for the unconditional release of all political prisoners, U.S. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said.

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To date, around 30 to 40 people remain in prison, she added.

Psaki also called on Myanmar to abolish the conditions it imposed on those already released.

Meanwhile, rights organizations slammed Thein's move and called it "political opportunism" in light of the East Asia and the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) summits to be held in Naypyidaw next month. U.S. President Barack Obama will be attending the summit, the Bangkok Post relayed.

According to Bo Kyi of the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners-Burma, out of the 3,073 released on Tuesday, only one was a prisoner of conscience.

The sole prisoner, which Bo Kyi referred to as Mala was released from Myitkyina prison where he was serving a five-year sentence after he was linked to insurgent group Kachin Independence Army in 2013.

A separate report from the Political Prisoner Scrutiny Committee said at least 13 of those released were jailed for political reasons including eight military officers who were arrested after Prime Minister Khin Nyunt was ousted in 2004.

"None of the country's prisoners of conscience... appears to be included in the release," UK-based Amnesty International said, adding that large numbers of peaceful activists remain jailed in Myanmar.

Richard Bennett, the group's Asia Pacific Director questioned Myanmar's sincerity with regard to respecting human rights.

If Myanmar were truly honest about wanting to preserve human rights, they would have cleared their jails of the countless peaceful activists still behind bars, he added.

The group maintains that Myanmar continues to abide by repressive laws intended to quash dissent in the country.

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