Political Prisoner Release, Follows ASEAN Snub

Following its 1st February coup, the military destroyed the infrastructure of Burma’s fledgling democracy, thrashed the economy, ripped the healthcare system to shreds, killed and arrested its opposition – teachers, students, nurses, doctors, workers and journalists.

For the last nine months the people of Burma have been battered by the military, left to struggle without healthcare protection against COVID-19 – thousands died.

While soldiers and police terrorized urban civilians, the military’s warplanes and helicopters delivered airstrikes and the Burma Army ground attacks on ethnic villagers, displacing as many as 200,000 people.

As of the 20th October, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) reported 1181 people have been killed, 9073 arrested, 7190 detained, 1954 are evading arrest warrants and 65 people have been sentenced to death by the military appointed State Administration Council.

Against this backdrop of a vicious war delivered by the military junta against its own people, the Commander-in-Chief, General Ming Aung Hlaing, on Monday went on state controlled television to announce an amnesty for 1,316 people who had been sentenced and 4,320 awaiting trial.

Ming Aung Hlaing’s announcement came after ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) foreign ministers voted to deny him an invitation to its regional summit later this month.

The UN Special Rapporteur, Tom Andrews said while he welcomed the release of political prisoners he pointed out “it is important to remember that junta forces detained these individuals illegally for exercising their fundamental human rights.”

Mr Andrews explained many of those people arrested had been “tortured, some to death, others were victims of sexual assault; some were infected with COVID-19 and perished while in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions.”

Mr Andrews said in his statement “sustained pressure…is the best way the international community can support the people of Myanmar to protect their rights and save their country.”

A number of civil society and advocacy groups have reported some political prisoners are being rearrested soon after their release and charged with new offences.

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