News ID: 317191
Published: 0237 GMT October 18, 2021

Myanmar to free over 5,000 protesters after ASEAN snub

Myanmar to free over 5,000 protesters after ASEAN snub

A pro-democracy protester is detained by riot police officers during a rally against the military coup in Yangon, Myanmar, on February 27, 2021.

Myanmar's junta chief Monday announced the release of more than 5,000 people jailed for protesting against a February coup, days after a regional bloc delivered a major snub to the military regime.

There has been chaos in Myanmar since the coup, with more than 1,100 civilians killed in a bloody crackdown on dissent and more than 8,000 arrested, according to a local monitoring group.

More than 7,300 are currently behind bars, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), AFP reported.

Junta head Min Aung Hlaing said a total of 5,636 prisoners will be freed to mark the Thadingyut festival later in October, without providing details on when they would be freed.

The announcement comes on the heels of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations' decision to exclude Min Aung Hlaing from an upcoming summit of the 10-country bloc over his administration's commitment to defusing the bloody crisis.

The Democratic Voice of Burma news website said three of its journalists, all held for around six months, had been freed.

Myanmar authorities released more than 2,000 anti-coup protesters from prisons across the country in June, including journalists critical of the military government.

Mya Nu, who said her daughter was arrested in April, was one of dozens waiting outside Yangon's Insein prison after the latest announcement in the hope their loved ones would be among those set free.

More than 1,300 of those due to be released would be freed on the condition they sign agreements promising not to re-offend, according to the junta's Monday statement.

Foreign ministers from the ASEAN bloc on Friday decided to exclude Min Aung Hlaing, instead choosing to invite a "non-political representative" for Myanmar to the October 26-28 summit.

The organization took a stand after the junta rebuffed requests for a special envoy to meet "all stakeholders" in Myanmar – a phrase seen to include ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The junta slammed the decision, accusing ASEAN of breaching its policy of non-interference in the domestic affairs of member states.

Myanmar, mostly ruled by the military since a 1962 coup, has been a thorn in ASEAN's side since it joined in 1997.

Min Aung Hlaing's administration has justified its power grab citing alleged vote rigging in last year's elections, which Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) party won convincingly.





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