Conflicts & War

Myanmar releases 6 journalists, up to 2,000 prisoner pardons expected

(Update 1: Adds confirmation of release of journalists)

Bangkok, Jun 30 (EFE).- Myanmar authorities on Wednesday released six journalists who had been jailed for their coverage of the protests and civil disobedience movement in the wake of the military coup earlier this year amid an expected amnesty of up to 2,000 prisoners.

Among the media workers freed in Yangon are Ko Aung Ye Ko of 7 Day News, Kay Zon Nway of Myanmar Now, journalists Ko Banyar Oo and Soe Yarzar Tun, Ye Myo Khant of Myanmar Pressphoto Agency and Hein Pyae Zaw of Zeekwat Media, according to the Irrawaddy news portal.

Myanmar Now earlier said that among those among those to be released are people accused of “inciting public disorder” after the military uprising.

It said at least 700 inmates of the total announced were expected to leave Insein prison Wednesday, the penitentiary where thousands of prisoners of conscience were imprisoned during the succession of military regimes that ruled the country between 1962 and 2011.

Hundreds of people crowded at the gates of the penitentiary of the old capital from early in the morning waiting for the release, according to media reports.

In western Chin state, where the military junta has run into fierce opposition, at least 41 political prisoners (33 men and eight women) will be released, the Chin World Media portal said, citing relatives of some inmates.

Authorities also dropped charges Tuesday against 24 celebrities and athletes who had expressed their rejection of the military regime, the army-owned Myawaddy television channel reported Tuesday night.

Since the Feb. 1 uprising, security forces have detained 6,421 people, of which 5,554 were still in prison, and issued arrest warrants against 1,988, according to data from the Association for the Assistance of Political Prisoners.

As a result of the brutal repression unleashed against the opposition by the security forces, who shot to kill peaceful protesters, at least 883 people have lost their lives, the association said.

Tomorrow marks five months of the military coup that ended the incipient and young democracy in Myanmar, but the army has not managed to control the entire country in this time and protests continue in several regions.

Some of the protesters have decided to take up arms against the military, tired of the little progress made by peaceful protests; while the confrontations between the Armed Forces and rebel groups have been opened or intensified throughout the country.

The Myanmar Army justifies the coup on alleged electoral fraud November’s elections, in which the party led by the Nobel Peace Prize Aung San Suu Kyi won a landslide victory, as it did in 2015, and which were considered legitimate by international observers.

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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