Burma's military government says it is granting amnesty to some 28,00 prisoners to mark the country's Independence's Day on Thursday.
Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is not believed to be among them. She has spent more than half of the past 17 years under house arrest, after the military refused to recognize the election victory of her National League for Democracy party in 1990.
Amnesty International estimates at least one thousand other political prisoners are being held in Burma's jails.
Petty thieves and other minor criminals are expected to make up the majority of those released this week.
The official "New Light of Myanmar" newspaper reports today that the prisoner release is to commemorate the 59th anniversary of Burma's independence from Britain.
The country gained independence in 1948, after more than 120 of British colonial rule.
Information for this report is provide by AP and AFP.