Myanmar junta releases 1,600 prisoners in New Year amnesty

Bangkok Desk, Apr 17 (EFE).- More than 1,600 Myanmar prisoners were being released Sunday in a Buddhist New Year amnesty, the military junta announced, as anti-coup protests took place across the country.
The total of 1,619 prisoners to be released includes 42 foreigners, according two junta statements on Sunday, although they did not say whether they would include political prisoners jailed for their opposition to the 2021 coup.
More than 1,700 people have been killed and 13,000 arrested by the military since the coup, according to the NGO Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, which documents and verifies information.
It is also unknown whether Australian Sean Turnell, economic adviser to the deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi and who has been held since shortly after the coup on Feb. 1, 2021, is among the 42 foreigners released and deported.
Images published by local media showed relatives of inmates gathering outside prisons, especially in front of Insein prison in the most populated city of Yangon.
The junta’s gesture is traditional in Myanmar, where authorities pardon prisoners for special celebrations and where more than 800 were granted amnesty last Buddhist New Year.
The commemoration of the New Year has also motivated anti-junta protest marches throughout the country, a common occurrence in the 14 months since the coup, especially on important dates.
The coup plunged Myanmar into a deep economic, political and social crisis, with a military regime that has failed to take control of the country and a parallel civilian government trying to gain national and international influence.
In the last year the long-running armed conflicts between the military and ethnic armed organizations have been exacerbated, and civilian militias have been formed, aligning with the rebel groups.
The military justify the coup by alleging fraud in the November 2020 election, in which Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy won by a landslide with the endorsement of international observers. EFE
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