Published in The Myanmar Times on 24 April 2013

Sonny Swe at Yangon Airport. Photo: Ko Taik/The Myanmar Times

Sonny Swe at Yangon Airport. Photo: Ko Taik/The Myanmar Times

The Myanmar Times’ co-founder U Myat Swe (Sonny) was released from Taunggyi Prison in Shan State yesterday, as part of a government amnesty releasing 93 prisoners.

U Myat Swe received a 14-year sentence in 2005 for bypassing censorship regulations and had served eight-and-a-half years at the time the amnesty was granted.

He was greeted at 11am by about 30 colleagues from The Myanmar Times at Yangon Airport, as well as his wife, Yamin Htin Aung and his 18-year-old son, Nicholas Swe. The President Office spokesman Ye Htut said in a Facebook post that 93 people were given a presidential pardon on Tuesday.

The Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) told Irrawaddy yesterday that 59 people being imprisoned for political reasons were among those released, including 19 political prisoners and 40 Shan rebel soldiers.

Prisoners were released from Yangon’s Insein Prison, Mandalay’s Obo, Myingyan, and Pakkoku prisons, Thayawady prison in Bago and Thayet in Magway Region.

AAPP joint secretary, Bo Kyi, said that more than 200 political prisoners remain in Myanmar’s prisons. This includes U Myat Swe’s father, Brigadier General Thein Swe, who was a senior member of the now-disbanded Military Intelligence department. No information about U Thein Swe’s possible release is currently known.

The partnership between The Myanmar Times editor-in-chief Ross Dunkley and U Myat Swe was created in 2000 and it was Myanmar’s first foreign media joint venture.