Hundreds of pro-democracy protesters set free from Myanmar jails
Bangkok, Oct 19 (EFE).- Myanmar military rulers Tuesday released hundreds of people from prisons, months after the junta jailed them for demanding restoration of democracy following the ouster of a civilian government and seizure of power in an army coup on Feb.1
Military dictator General Min Aung Hlaing had announced a general amnesty for thousands of protesters on Monday.
The process to set free more jailed protesters will continue on Wednesday.
On Monday night, a bus carrying dozens of inmates left Yangon’s Insein Prison, where many relatives of the jailed civilians waited.
Among those released and cleared of charges are at least 11 Myanmar journalists, the DVB channel reported Tuesday.
Official newspaper The New Global Light of Myanmar, controlled by the military, published a list Tuesday of 34 artists and celebrities against whom the government dropped sedition charges.
The offense is punishable by up to three years in prison.
Among the high-profile released prisoners are a handful of members of the National League for Democracy headed by the deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
The NLD was in power before the Feb.1 coup.
The government, however, did not set free Suu Kyi, under arrest since the coup or any of her close associates, including former president Win Myint.
On Monday, the military junta announced the release of more than 5,600 people arrested for protesting against the military rule and demanding the restoration of democracy in the country.
The announcement came days after the Association of Southeast Asean Nations dropped the military government from its summit over the “insufficient” progress in resolving the political and social crisis triggered by the coup,
Some Myanmar nonprofits, including the Network for Human Rights Documentation, and the UN Special Rapporteur Tom Andrews, have expressed reservations about the move by the military.
“It is important to remember that junta forces detained these individuals illegally for exercising their fundamental human rights (…) Their release is clearly not because the junta has had a change of heart (…),” Andrews said in a statement.
Andrews said the military government released the prisoners “due to pressure exerted on the junta from inside and outside of Myanmar.”
The Myanmar junta justifies the coup, citing alleged electoral fraud in the now annulled election results in which Suu Kyi’s party won a landslide victory.
At least 1,178 people have died in violent repression by police and soldiers since the coup, data from the Association for the Assistance of Political Prisoners showed. EFE