Myanmar military pardons more than 3,000 prisoners for New Year

The military did not specify whether those jailed for opposing its power grab in February 2021 would be freed. 

Myanmar’s military has announced plans to release 3,113 prisoners, including 98 foreigners, to mark the country’s traditional New Year.

The statement by the military on Monday did not specify whether those imprisoned for opposing its power grab in February 2021 would be freed.

The military has jailed thousands of opponents and pro-democracy activists since it seized power and brutally put down protests, including by killing some 3,240 civilians, according to activists.

Lieutenant General Aung Lin Dwe, a spokesman for the military, said that the amnesty is a “celebration of Myanmar’s New Year to bring joy for the people and address humanitarian concerns”.

Those who reoffend would have to serve the remainder of their sentence with an additional penalty, he said.

There were no additional details.

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, an activist group, said at least 17,460 people who were arrested for opposing the coup remain in detention.

Among them is toppled leader Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel laureate and figurehead of opposition to military rule, who is serving 33 years in prison after a marathon of trials condemned internationally as a sham.

The military has also jailed other senior members of her civilian government the military overthrew in the 2021 coup.

The military periodically grants an amnesty to prisoners, but the numbers this year and in 2022 have been a fraction of the 23,000 released during the same Buddhist holiday in 2021.

Human rights organisations and many world leaders have repeatedly called on the military to release all political prisoners.

Source: News Agencies