Myanmar court frees jailed student activists after Aung San Suu Kyi pledges to release political prisoners

Mr Thet Wai, 61, who was detained for his illegal solo protest, is welcomed by activists as he leaves the Insein prison in Yangon, Myanmar, on April 8, 2016. Reports state over 4000 prisoners across the country including some political prisoners are
Mr Thet Wai, 61, who was detained for his illegal solo protest, is welcomed by activists as he leaves the Insein prison in Yangon, Myanmar, on April 8, 2016. Reports state over 4000 prisoners across the country including some political prisoners are released on April 8, 2016 before the start of the long Thingyan holidays. Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi on April 7, 2016 made a statement which indicated her plans to release all political prisoners in Myanmar.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

THARRAWADDY, Myanmar (AFP) - A Myanmar court on Friday (April 8) freed dozens of jailed students, in the first wave of detainee releases after state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi pledged that the release of activists and political prisoners would be the first priority of her new government.

There were jubilant scenes at the sweltering central Myanmar courthouse in Tharrawaddy, as a judge told young activists that they could go home more than a year after they were arrested over their education protest that was crushed in a violent police crackdown in March 2015.

"You 69 are all freed now (from this case) without charge," said township judge Chit Myat.

Two other student protesters were deemed too young to be prosecuted, however three of the 69 face further hearings in other courts.

Myanmar has scores of political prisoners languishing in its jails and hundreds of detained activists awaiting trial, despite reforms in recent years as the military loosened its grip on power after half a century of repressive junta rule.

Ms Suu Kyi said on Thursday she would prioritise releasing activists - an issue laden with significance for herself and scores of MPs in her party once jailed for democracy activism. The announcement did not specify a timeframe.