In 2010, Human Rights Watch launched its "Behind Bars" campaign to press for the release of some 2,100 political prisoners held in Burma. Since the launch of the campaign, many political prisoners have been released.
In the most recent amnesty on January 13, 2012, 651 prisoners – including at least 300 political prisoners – were freed. Among those released were members of the 88 Generation student group that led the 1988 uprising and later protests, including leader Min Ko Naing, Nilar Thein, her husband Kyaw Min Yu (Ko Jimmy), and Htay Kywe. Also released were Shan ethnic leader Khun Tun Oo, monk leader U Gambira, and journalists Zaw Thet Htwe, Ngwe Soe Linn, and Hla Hla Win.
While the release of key political prisoners is a crucial development in promoting respect for human rights in Burma, the government still has a long way to go to prove that the recent changes are steps to lasting reform. Hundreds of political prisoners remain behind bars.
Human Rights Watch calls on the Burmese government to release all remaining political prisoners and to agree to an independent international mechanism to access prisons and publicly report on the whereabouts and condition of remaining political prisoners.