Myanmar political prisoners not among 1,600 freed in new year amnesty

The country typically grants an annual amnesty to thousands of prisoners to mark the Buddhist New Year, usually a joyous holiday celebrated in many parts.

Published: 17th April 2022 12:51 PM  |   Last Updated: 17th April 2022 12:51 PM   |  A+A-

FILE - Myanmar nationals living in Thailand hold pictures of Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi gesture with a three-fingers salute, a symbol of resistance, as they protest in front of the Myanmar Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand on Feb. 8, 2021.

Myanmar nationals living in Thailand hold pictures of Aung San Suu Kyi gesture with a three-fingers salute, a symbol of resistance infront of Myanmar embassy in Bangkok. (File Photo | AP)

By AFP

YANGON: Families of detained Myanmar protesters had their hopes dashed Sunday after political prisoners were not included in some 1,600 people released by the junta to mark the Buddhist new year.

The Southeast Asian country has been in turmoil since Aung San Suu Kyi's civilian government was ousted last year in a military coup, which sparked huge protests and a deadly crackdown.

State television announced that 1,619 prisoners, including 42 foreigners, had been "pardoned" and will be released to mark the new year -- an annual tradition that last year saw 23,000 prisoners freed.

A prisoner released from Yangon's Insein prison told AFP that "political cases and protesters were not among those released", with authorities only freeing criminals.

Crowds in front of the prison slowly left on Sunday afternoon. More than 100 people had gathered hoping to be reunited with loved ones, AFP correspondents said.

Among them was a woman waiting for her 19-year-old nephew, sentenced to three years imprisonment for incitement against the military.

"He was young, and he may have some feeling to fight," she said, declining to give her name. 

"I wish all young children will be released including my nephew. They all were innocent."

Aye Myint, whose 19-year-old daughter was serving three years on a political charge, had hoped she would be released.

"Now, she has been more than one year in prison," Aye Myint said.

Subdued holiday 

At around midday, a prison officer confirmed that "about 160 prisoners including six women prisoners" had been released from Insein, without giving more details.

There was no mention of the Australian economist Sean Turnell, a former Suu Kyi advisor who was arrested shortly after the coup.

He is currently on trial for allegedly breaching the official secrets act, which carries a maximum 14-year jail sentence.

The exact details of his alleged offence have not been made public, though state television has said he had access to "secret state financial information" and had tried to flee Myanmar.

The country typically grants an annual amnesty to thousands of prisoners to mark the Buddhist New Year, usually a joyous holiday celebrated in many parts with water fights.

But this year, with the bloody military crackdown on dissent, the streets in many major cities have been silent as people protest junta rule.



Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp