Conflicts & War

Myanmar junta releases 2,296 post-coup prisoners

Bangkok, Jul 1 (EFE).- Myanmar’s military junta released a total of 2,296 people arrested throughout the country for opposing the Feb. 1 coup, according to official media reports on Thursday.

The vast majority of those arrested had been charged with inciting public unrest with their rejection of the military coup that abruptly ended Myanmar’s incipient transition to democracy.

The military authorities specified that all the charges against those released were dropped, the Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper, now controlled by the army, reported Thursday.

Junta spokesperson Zaw Min Tun told The Irrawaddy newspaper that those released “took part in protests but not in leading roles. They didn’t participate in violent acts.”

Among those released – 721 of them in Yangon – were six journalists arrested for covering the protests and the civil disobedience movement against the military junta.

The media, which is still checking the list of those released, point out that no prominent member of the anti-junta movement has been released from prison.

“Today’s event intend to make it seem there has been a relaxation in the junta’s repression. This is not the case. In fact, the junta is making space for even more detainees, and even more torture victims (…) It is a continuation of the campaign of fear relentlessly waged against Burma’s people by the terrorist so-called State Administrative Council,” the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) advocacy group said Wednesday in a statement.

This is the second release of post-coup prisoners after one carried out in March, when 628 political prisoners were released.

Between Feb. 1 and Wednesday, the security forces detained 6,435 people, of which 5,210 were still in prison, and issued arrest warrants against 1,965, according to the latest data from the AAPP.

At least 884 people have been killed as a result of the crackdown by security forces, the AAPP said.

Thursday marks five months since the military coup, but the junta has still not managed to take control of the entire country during this time and protests continue in several regions.

Tired of the little progress made by the peaceful demonstrations, some protesters have formed militias or joined armed ethnic groups in the country to put up armed resistance to the military, while clashes between the armed forces and ethnic guerrillas – who demand greater autonomy for their regions – have intensified in several areas across Myanmar since the coup.

The military has justified the coup alleging fraud in elections held in November, in which ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s party repeated its resounding victory of 2015, with international observers backing the polls.

Suu Kyi, along with other leaders of the overthrown government, remain in detention while being prosecuted for multiple crimes, although they maintain their innocence. EFE


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