February 9, 2023

Filipino Guardian

Sentinels of Filipino Free Press

UN: Mass pardons in Myanmar included 300 political prisoners

GENEVA, Switzerland — About 300 political prisoners were among more than 7,000 prisoners granted amnesty by Myanmar’s junta this week, the United Nations said on Friday.

The military junta, which seized power almost two years ago, announced on Wednesday that it would release 7,012 prisoners to mark the 75th anniversary of Myanmar’s independence.

It did not say whether the amnesty included those detained as part of the crackdown on dissidents, but the UN Legal Office said political prisoners were among those released.

“There are about 300 who were political prisoners,” spokesman Jeremy Laurence told reporters, citing “credible sources.”

He said 195 of those cases have been verified so far.

Local surveillance group AAPP also said it was aware of 300 political prisoners who had been released. It had identified 223 of them and was working to review other cases.

“The release of political prisoners in Myanmar is not only a relief for those wrongly detained, but also for their families,” Laurence said.

Laurence welcomed the amnesty, pointing out that “on the very day these political prisoners were released, another 22 were arrested.

“So the situation continues.”

And many of the people detained for opposing military rule “have been subjected to torture and ill-treatment,” he said.

“Such arrests are not only intended to silence the junta’s critics, but also to instill fear.”

Since the military coup in February 2021, nearly 17,000 people have been arrested and over 13,000 remain in detention, Laurence said, adding that UN chief justice Volker Turk is preparing a report on the situation in Myanmar.

“The way out of the crisis in Myanmar is not to imprison people, but to allow them to participate freely, fully and effectively in political life,” he said. — Agence France-Presse