More than 3,000 prisoners pardoned in Myanmar New Year amnesty

The Myanmar junta pardoned a total of 3,113 prisoners, including 98 foreigners, in an amnesty over the traditional Myanmar New Year on Monday, according to official announcements by the military. 

Statements on the inmates’ release signed by military council secretary Lt-Gen Aung Lin Dwe said the act was intended “to bring peace of mind” and was carried out “in consideration of humanitarian concerns” on the holiday. 

Among the 98 foreigners pardoned were five Sri Lankans, according to the military’s announcements. Further details about the identity of the others was not known at the time of reporting.

It is still unclear if political prisoners were among those sent home. 

The so-called “New Year amnesty” is a common annual exercise in Myanmar, but the number of prisoners released this year and in 2022—around 1,600—were low compared to the more than 23,000 people freed in 2021.

Since staging a coup more than two years ago, the military has arrested thousands of political opponents, activists and peaceful protesters in addition to several members of the elected civilian government led by Aung San Suu Kyi. Seventy-seven-year-old Suu Kyi has been sentenced to 33 years in prison in a series of convictions that observers have condemned as trumped up charges put forward by the military council. 

According to the monitoring group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, at least 17,460 people remain in the junta’s prisons and at least 3,240 have been killed by the regime’s forces during the post-coup period. 

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