October 19 (NWN) – The Myanmar military government has said it has released hundreds of political prisoners who opposed the February coup and plans to release thousands more.
The military junta said it has already released more than 700 prisoners, most of whom are in the Yangon prison. Military leaders said Monday they plan to release more than 5,000 protesters arrested following the February 1 military coup.
Released prisoners must sign a pledge not to commit further acts of violence in Myanmar.
Officials said the amnesty is granted to those convicted or charged with inciting anti-junta protests, but not to prisoners accused of terrorism.
This week the military junta has released prisoners for the second time. More than 2,200 people were released in June on charges of inciting protests.
New releases appeared after the decision of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to exclude the head of the junta of Myanmar, General Min Aung Hlaing, from the upcoming summit. The ASEAN Chairman said there is “not enough progress” towards peace in Myanmar and said the group “will give Myanmar a place to” return to normal life. “
The Association for Assistance to Political Prisoners said on Monday that the mass release of prisoners by the junta is nothing more than a tactic aimed at “ending international condemnation.”
Tom Andrews, United Nations Rapporteur for Myanmar, echoed this sentiment.
“The junta is releasing political prisoners in Myanmar not because of a change in views, but because of pressure,” he said in a statement posted on Twitter.
After the February coup, the Myanmar military killed hundreds of people in repression and protests. The junta came to power claiming that parliamentary elections a year ago were fraudulent and illegal. Civilian leaders, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, were arrested and charged with detention.