Myanmar has released 73 political prisoners days after president Thein Sein promised during a European tour to free all the country's prisoners of conscience by the end of the year.

More than 130 people are still behind bars for their opposition to decades-long brutal military rule. Many new arrests and trials are still reported every month for peaceful protests against illegal land seizures.

"It is important that the president has been releasing political prisoners," Thet Oo, a member of the society for former political prisoners, said. "But it's more important to stop arresting and charging those who are fighting for citizens' rights."

Speaking in London last week, Thein Sein promised that "by the end of this year, there will be no prisoners of conscience in Myanmar".

But critics claim that all the repressive laws that put political prisoners in jail are still in place and argue that the Government is only realising inmates for public relations purposes.

"It is good that the government has released these prisoners," Bo Kyi, joint secretary of the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in Myanmar, told the Wall Street Journal. "But if the president wants national reconciliation, he has to release all other prisoners immediately and stop arresting anyone else."

Among those released were Brang Shawng, an inmate who had been serving time at the notorious Insein prison in the northern outskirts of Yangon for alleged links to illegal organisations in the troubled state of Kachin. Eight members of Aung San Suu Kyi's opposition National League for Democracy party were also released from Mandalay prison.