Burma

Myanmar Junta Frees Political Prisoners and Journalists

By The Irrawaddy 30 June 2021

Myanmar’s regime released more than 2,200 detainees on Wednesday, including journalists and protesters.

The majority of those released were charged with incitement for joining anti-regime protests, according to the regime’s spokesman Major General Zaw Min Tun.

“A total of 2,296 people have been released. They took part in protests but not in leading roles. They didn’t participate in violent acts,” he told The Irrawaddy.

It is unlikely that prominent activists and National League for Democracy MPs will be among those released.

The regime had detained 6,421 people by Tuesday, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) human rights group. Despite the release on Wednesday, more than 4,000 political prisoners remain in detention.

Relatives gathered at prison gates on Wednesday morning as the news of the releases spread.

In the evening Yangon’s Insein Prison released 721 detainees.

Myanmar Now reporter Ma Kay Zon Nway was released after more than four months behind bars. She was arrested in late February while covering a protest in Yangon and charged with incitement.

“I didn’t have to sign any pledge for the release,” she said.

The other five journalists released from Insein on Wednesday are Ko Aung Ye Ko from 7 Day News, Kay Zon Nway of Myanmar Now, freelance editor Ko Banyar Oo, freelance reporter Soe Yarzar Tun, Ye Myo Khant of the Myanmar Pressphoto Agency and Hein Pyae Zaw from Zeekwat Media. All were detained in late February while covering anti-regime protests in Yangon and charged with incitement.

Numerous journalists, including Frontier Myanmar’s managing editor Danny Fenster, editor-in-chief of the Thanlyin Post Ma Tu Tu Tha, Mizzima News Agency co-founder Ma Thin Thin Aung and Myitkyina Journal’s reporters remain in prison.

Prisons in Pathein, Dawei, Shwebo, Lashio and others also released detainees on Wednesday.

The releases came after the junta dropped charges against 24 celebrities who had been on warrants for incitement for anti-regime activism.

In late March, the regime released 628 alleged protesters.

The AAPP said in a statement that none of those detained should have been seized in the first place and asked if more innocent civilians would be detained and about those still being held, many of whom are being tortured.

“Any release must aim at real reform and include the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Violence must end and those who committed torture and murder brought to justice. The junta is releasing people whilst arrests continue,” AAPP joint-secretary U Bo Kyi said.

He said the international community must not accept this as a relaxation and continue pressuring for the release of all political prisoners and the return of democracy.


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