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Myanmar grants amnesty to more than 23,000 prisoners

  • Published at 11:39 am February 12th, 2021
Myanmar protest coup
Demonstrators hold a flag and flash a three-finger salute as they protest against the military coup and demand for the release of elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, in Yangon, Myanmar, February 12, 2021 Reuters

Another 55 foreign prisoners will also be freed

Myanmar's military regime ordered the release of more than 23,000 prisoners on Friday, following a week of fresh arrests targeting allies of ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi and election officials.

Mass amnesties to empty the country's overcrowded prison system are common on significant local dates. Friday was a public holiday in Myanmar.

"The State Administration Council... has remitted the punishment of 23,314 prisoners from the respective prisons, jails and camps," said an announcement in the state-run Global New Light of Myanmar, using the official name of the new army administration.

A separate notice said another 55 foreign prisoners would also be freed.

Both orders were signed by junta chief Min Aung Hlaing.

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No further details on the released prisoners were given in the announcement.

Suu Kyi and other top political figures were arrested in dawn raids on February 1, following claims by the military that the November election won by her National League for Democracy (NLD) party was undermined by vote fraud.

The Nobel laureate has not been seen in public since she was detained, though NLD officials have reported that she is in "good health."

More than 260 people have been detained in the wake of the coup, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners local monitoring group. Around 20 people have since been released.

Among those arrested so far are Australian Sean Turnell, an economic advisor to Suu Kyi's deposed government.

The NLD -- whose Yangon headquarters saw a raid this week -- also confirmed the arrest of election officials on Thursday.