SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 30 May 2024, Thursday |

Myanmar frees hundreds held since coup

Myanmar freed more than 2,000 detainees on Wednesday, including journalists and others who the ruling military said had been held on incitement charges for taking part in protests, local media reported.

Activists described the release as a ploy by the ruling military to divert attention from an ongoing security crackdown.

The Western countries and Myanmar’s neighbors have put pressure on the army to release thousands of people detained during protests since it ousted the elected government of Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi on Feb. 1.

Many of the military’s opponents have been held, some convicted, under a law that criminalizes comments that could cause fear or spread false news and is punishable by up to three years in jail. Suu Kyi is on trial for a similar offence, among others, and remains in detention.

Military spokesman Zaw Min Tun said most of those freed had been charged with incitement for joining protests.

“A total of 2,296 people have been released. They took part in protests but not in leading roles. They didn’t participate in violent acts,” he told Irrawaddy new site.

Reuters could not reach Zaw Min Tun for further comment.

Videos posted on social media showed a stream of mostly young detainees pouring off buses from Yangon’s colonial-era Insein prison, smiling, waving and embracing family members who wept as they arrived.

Others showed a succession of buses leaving the rear entrance of the jail, with passengers leaning from windows and waving at small crowds that gathered outside.

The military has struggled to impose order since it took power, with daily protests nationwide and paralysing strikes.

Insein prison chief Zaw Zaw had earlier told Reuters that some 700 people would be released, without giving a reason. He did not respond to subsequent calls seeking comment.

The news portal Myanmar Now said its reporter Kay Zon Nway was freed after 124 days charged with incitement.

    Source:
  • Reuters