NAYPYITAW, Myanmar, Oct. 12 (UPI) -- The Myanmar government Wednesday released the first of some 6,300 prisoners given amnesty, including political detainees, pro-democracy activists said.
Those freed included 150 political detainees, said Thein Oo, a senior member of the banned National League for Democracy, CNN reported.
Maj. Gen. Hoe Ten, sentenced to 105 years in prison in 2005 on sedition charges, also was among those released, the report said, quoting the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in Thailand.
The amnesty was announced Tuesday, although the announcement did not make clear whether that would include an estimated 2,100 political detainees, which has been the main demand of the United States and other nations and rights groups critical of Myanmar's decades-long military rule.
The amnesty reportedly came after a call by the government-appointed National Human Rights Commission.
The amnesty is the latest of a number of changes in the country, formerly called Burma, since a military-backed civilian government under President Thein Sein took over following elections last November, the first in two decades. The changes have included the freeing of Myanmar's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi after years of house arrest.
The U.S. government has welcomed these changes.
The Financial Times reported the recent actions by the new government could lead to consideration of relaxation of the international economic sanctions imposed on the isolated South Asian nation.
The BBC reported those released Wednesday also included comedian and government critic Zarganar, arrested in 2008 for criticizing the junta's response to Cyclone Nargis in which more than 140,000 died.
He told the BBC he was wary of his release which he said is conditional.
"If I do something wrong they will send me back," he said. He said he was not happy as many of his friends were still in prison.
Speaking to CNN, Mark Farmaner, director of the London-based Burma Campaign U.K. rights group, welcomed the amnesty but said he did not think it is a prelude to democracy.
"What's very clear is that (President) Thein Sein is willing to make more concessions in order to get sanctions lifted and get more international legitimacy," Farmaner said.