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    HomeWorldMyanmar Army Rulers Release 3,000 Prisoners as a Gesture of Goodwill during...

    Myanmar Army Rulers Release 3,000 Prisoners as a Gesture of Goodwill during the Holidays

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    Myanmar’s military government has released over 3,000 prisoners to mark the traditional lunar New Year holiday. It is unclear if political detainees who opposed army rule were included in this release. The ruling body, State Administration Council, pardoned 3,113 prisoners, including 98 foreigners who will be deported. Prisoner releases are common on major holidays. The number and names of those released from the country’s largest penitentiary, Yangon’s Insein Prison, are not yet known.

    As of last Wednesday, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners reported that there were 17,460 political detainees in Myanmar, including former civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Since the military takeover on February 1, 2021, civilians have borne the brunt of brutal military offensives in the countryside and urban guerrillas are active in major cities. The military’s use of artillery and airstrikes has displaced over a million people, causing a humanitarian crisis. At least 3,240 civilians have been killed by the security forces since the military takeover.

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    It is unknown how many political prisoners would be released, if any, but such releases are viewed as a way to ease international pressure and demonstrate the military’s legitimacy. This year’s celebrations of Thingyan drew smaller crowds than before due to the coronavirus pandemic and the 2021 takeover. Celebrations in most rural areas were muted, with many people heeding the call of opponents of military rule not to take part in military-planned activities.

    The violent struggle between the army and pro-democracy forces continued during the holiday, with armed clashes in the countryside and small bombings of official military-sponsored pavilions in several towns and cities. The country’s military leader did not mention the political crisis in his New Year’s speech but said that the economy had rebounded last year from contraction to nearly 3% growth. He urged people to work hard to export more products to improve economic growth this year.

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    Rajesh M
    Rajesh M
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