Conflicts & War

NGO denounces lack of Myanmar amnesty transparency, new arrests

Bangkok, Oct 21 (EFE).- Human Right Watch denounced Thursday the lack of transparency of the amnesty announced this week by the Myanmar military junta and the new detention of political prisoners.

The military junta announced Monday it would release 5,635 people arrested for their participation in protests against the coup on Feb. 1, which ended the elected government of Aung san Suu Kyi.

Since then buses have been seen leaving prisons with dozens of inmates on a daily basis as hundreds of families and friends looked on.

The rights organization said the junta has not provided the list of those released or their location, adding that the release of only 189 prisoners, including 14 journalists, had been confirmed, according to data from the Association for Assistance to Political Prisoners, a local non-governmental organization that documents arrests, persecutions and releases since the military uprising.

“The partial release of unjustly held detainees should not distract from the egregiously abusive government of the junta, which has not changed,” said Linda Lakhdhir, Asia legal adviser at Human Rights Watch.

The humanitarian organization also said some of those released have been re-arrested, such as eleven of the 38 people released in the city of Meiktila, including a former parliamentarian.

It said they were arrested again immediately after their release and now face possible charges under the Myanmar Anti-Terrorism Act.

“The lack of transparency from the authorities and the immediate arrest of some released prisoners reinforce the need to keep up the pressure to release all political prisoners,” said Lakhdhir, adding that the actual figures may turn out to be much lower than what is expected.

The junta said it had already released more than 2,000 prisoners in June, but the organization was only able to verify the release of 372.

Among the higher-profile people released from jail this week are a handful of members of the National League for Democracy party, headed by deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi, which controlled the government before the coup.

Neither Suu Kyi, who has been arrested since the early hours of the coup and faces several judicial processes initiated after the military uprising, nor the former president, Win Myint, or other people linked to the former leader, are currently among those released.

In the eight months since the coup, the junta has arrested more than 9,000 people, and more than 7,100 remained in detention on Oct. 19, while the death toll from military and police violence reached 1,181, according to the data from the organization.

The army justifies the coup on alleged fraud during November’s general elections, the result of which has been annulled and in which Suu Kyi’s party won a landslide victory, as it did in 2015, with the endorsement of international observers. EFE


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