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Thu. Apr 25th, 2024

Myanmar’s military government has granted clemency to over 9,000 prisoners, including 114 foreign nationals, in commemoration of the nation’s Independence Day. The releases, beginning on Thursday, are expected to unfold over several days. Outside Yangon’s Insein Prison, friends and families gathered for the event, although the identities of those to be released remain undisclosed.

The announcement, occurring amid a crisis in the northern region where ethnic armed groups threaten trade with China, lacked the usual celebratory atmosphere. Notably absent from Independence Day events was military chief Min Aung Hlaing, with his administration stating that 9,652 prisoners would be set free.

Since the military coup in February 2001, following the ousting of civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, the government has faced accusations of brutal suppression of protests and dissent. Aung San Suu Kyi, currently imprisoned at the age of 78, received a 33-year sentence on various politically motivated charges. Her party was dissolved in the previous year due to non-compliance with stringent party registration laws.

Amidst the power shift, the military has been accused of covering up the deaths of prisoners as escape attempts, with more than 25,730 arrests related to opposition to the coup, and nearly 20,000 individuals still in detention, as reported by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP).

The AAPP highlights the loss of over 4,277 civilians, including pro-democracy activists, at the hands of security forces. In 2022, the international community condemned the military government for executing four pro-democracy leaders and activists, marking the country’s first use of the death penalty in decades.

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