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Myanmar's junta pardons over 3,000 prisoners for New Year

The military-led government has jailed thousands of opponents and pro-democracy activists since it seized power in 2021 and brutally put down protests, drawing global condemnation.

Reuters
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Soldiers prepare to block a road in front of the Central Bank of Myanmar in Yangon on Feb 15, 2021, as Myanmar's junta deployed extra troops around the country as part of the ongoing military coup. Photo: AFP
Soldiers prepare to block a road in front of the Central Bank of Myanmar in Yangon on Feb 15, 2021, as Myanmar's junta deployed extra troops around the country as part of the ongoing military coup. Photo: AFP

Myanmar's junta released 3,113 prisoners, including 98 foreigners, to mark the country's traditional New Year on Monday, according to a statement from the military government published on pro-military Telegram channels.

The military-led government has jailed thousands of opponents and pro-democracy activists since it seized power in 2021 and brutally put down protests, drawing global condemnation.

Lieutenant General Aung Lin Dwe, a state secretary of the junta, said in a statement the amnesty is a "celebration of Myanmar's New Year to bring joy for the people and address humanitarian concerns".

A junta spokesperson did not answer a phone call seeking comment and it was unclear who was included in Monday's amnesty.

Ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel laureate and figurehead of opposition to military rule, is serving 33 years in prison after a marathon of trials condemned internationally as a sham.

The junta has also detained other senior members of her civilian government the military overthrew in the 2021 coup.

At least 17,460 people remain in detention and 3,240 have been killed by the junta, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, an activist group.

The junta periodically grants an amnesty to prisoners, but the numbers this year and in 2022 have been a fraction of the 23,000 released during the same Buddhist holiday in 2021.

Human rights organisations and many world leaders have repeatedly called on the junta to release all political prisoners.

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