Myanmar state broadcaster MRTV reported Wednesday that 7,012 prisoners, including political detainees, will be released by the military-controlled government of Myanmar in commemoration of the nation’s independence day. But a JURIST correspondent in Myanmar doubts that the announcement signals a positive trend for the junta. “We can’t expect much improvement because they do that [release prisoners] for show,” she told JURIST Thursday. “There is no guarantee that all 7012 prisoners are now free. There were past incidents where people who got released were arrested soon after. Apart from the news of high profile people, we can’t really tell if all of them are out of prison or not.”
Local news outlets report that Dr. Min Htet Paing, a political prisoner from Myeik prison, was rearrested directly after the independence day release. JURIST’s correspondent suspects that the amnesty is intended solely to garner international goodwill. “All acts of arrest and release by the military juntas are not based on any legal reasoning anyway. They make up the laws, arrest and release whoever, whenever they want,” she said.
Myanmar has faced international condemnation and isolation since its military overthrew the democratically elected government led by Aung San Suu Kyi last year. Suu Kyi was sentenced to another seven years in prison on corruption charges on December 29, 2022.
The US, the UK, Canada and the EU have all imposed sanctions on the nation’s military, known as the Tatmadaw, and individuals who helped the junta come to power. A UN Security Council resolution also expressed grave concern over the junta’s execution of pro-democracy activists and called for the freedom of its political detainees. The junta reportedly released over 5,700 political prisoners in November 2022 in response to international attention on its “widespread and systematic abuses.”