More than 23,000 prisoners will be released from prisons across the country, but most were jailed before the February 1 coup.
Myanmar’s military rulers have ordered the release of 23,174 prisoners from prisons across the country under a general amnesty for the new year, a prison spokesman said, although a few are expected to include democracy activists arrested since the February 1 coup.
Saturday is the first day of the traditional New Year in Myanmar and the last day of the five-day holiday is usually celebrated by visiting Buddhist temples and throwing dirty water in the streets and partying.
Pro-democracy leaders have called for the cancellation of the festivities this year and for the Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government to focus on the campaign to restore democracy after the military is deployed.
On Saturday, thousands of anti-military protesters took to the streets in Mandalay, the country’s largest city, to demand the restoration of democracy, according to images and reports published on social media.
Even after the rains, thousands of people marched in Shan State to condemn the military.
As the military released thousands of detainees, they demanded warrants for 832 protesters.
Aung San Suu Kyi was among 3,141 people arrested in connection with the coup, according to a study by the Political Prisoners Assistance Agency (APPA).
“Most of these detainees were before February 1, but there are some who have been imprisoned since then,” Kia Tun Oo, a spokeswoman for the prison department, told Reuters by telephone.
Asked about those who have been detained for protesting against the military regime since his release, he said he did not have a general amnesty.
Further warrants have been issued
A number of internet celebrities, actors and singers who spoke out against the coup were among those the military wanted to arrest, accusing them of inciting dissent within the armed forces.
The couple, who were married to film director Christina Key and actor Jane Chike, were detained at Yangon’s main city airport on Saturday, several media outlets reported.
A military government spokesman declined to comment.
Zaire Luin, Pang Ye Thu, Ping Fio Min aka The Ye #Picak Generation Of the 23,000+ prisoners released in Myanmar’s New Year, those who have been imprisoned after their imprisonment.
Welcome, our friends.
More comrades for the revolution!
– Thinzar Shunlei Yi #WhatshappeninginMyanmar (@thinzashunleiyi) April 17, 2021
The military has been dealing with the crisis in Myanmar since the coup, which the military defended on allegations of fraud when Aung San Suu Kyi’s party won the November election, although the Election Commission rejected the objection.
After nearly half a century of military rule, the now-disbanded government took power for the first five years of civilian rule.
According to the latest figures from the APP, angry people have taken to the streets day after day to demand the restoration of democracy, denying crackdowns by security forces that have killed 7,226 people, according to the latest APP figures.
Political leaders on Friday announced the formation of the National Unity Government (NUG), including Aung San Suu Kyi and anti-coup protests and leaders of ethnic minorities, including the removal of members of parliament.
The NUG says it is legitimate political authority and has called for international recognition.
The military has not yet commented on the government, but said it would hold new elections in two years and hand over power to the winner.
The hugely popular Aung San Suu Kyi has faced a number of charges, including a violation of the Official Secrets Act that could land her in prison for up to 14 years. His lawyers have dismissed the allegations.
His supporters suspect the military will use the allegations to exclude the country’s leader and possibly his political party from any future elections.