Myanmar military junta gives amnesty to more than 3,000 prisoners

Bangkok, Apr 17 (EFE).- The Myanmar military junta announced an amnesty Monday for more than 3,000 prisoners, including about 100 foreigners, although it is unknown if there are political prisoners.

In a statement, the junta said 3,015 inmates would benefit from the measure promoted as a result of the Buddhist New Year or Thingyan, celebrated between Thursday and Sunday.

Relatives and friends of prisoners gather around a bus carrying inmates upon their release from Insein prison in Yangon, Myanmar, 17 April 2023. EFE/EPA/STRINGER

The Myanmar military only specified that among the foreigners to be released are five Sri Lankan citizens, without giving the rest of nationalities.

The prisoner amnesty, a common initiative in Myanmar on certain dates, comes after the Tuesday massacre of 168 people, including 40 minors, after the army bombarded a town in the northwest of the country.

In previous amnesties, the junta freed political prisoners, but only a few tens of the thousands behind bars, while some have been re-arrested.

The military coup of Feb. 1, 2021 plunged Myanmar into a deep political, social and economic crisis and has opened a spiral of violence with new civilian militias that have worsened the guerrilla war the country has experienced for decades.

The United Nations said in March that more than 3,000 civilians have been killed, 1.3 million have had to flee their homes and 16,000 have become political prisoners since the coup. This includes the de facto leader of the ousted government Aung San Suu Kyi, ending a decade of democratic transition. EFE