government announced on Sunday that more than 1,600 convicts will be released from prisons around the nation to celebrate the Buddhist new year, without clarifying whether the prisoners are demonstrators or common offenders.

The Southeast Asian country has been in upheaval since Aung San Suu Kyi’s democratic administration was deposed by a military coup last year, sparking massive protests and a bloody crackdown.

To celebrate the new year, state media stated that 1,619 convicts, including 42 foreigners, had been “pardoned” and would be released.
It was unclear whether anti-junta demonstrators or journalists imprisoned for covering the coup would be released.
According to AFP correspondents, more than 100 people gathered outside Yangon’s Insein prison on Sunday morning, expecting to be reunited with loved ones.

A woman was among them, waiting for her 19-year-old nephew, who had been sentenced to three years in prison for inciting military retaliation.

“He was young, and he might have had some fighting instincts,” she claimed, declining to reveal her identity.
“I hope that all young children, including my nephew, be released.” “They were all innocent.”

Another woman waiting outside the prison expressed optimism that her uncle, who was sentenced to three years in prison in March for political activism, would be released.

“I came here expecting him to be among the other prisoners who received amnesty,” she explained.

The woman, who did not want to be identified, said she had received a letter from her uncle in prison comforting her that he was fine.
There was no mention of Sean Turnell, an Australian economist who was detained shortly after the coup and was a former Suu Kyi adviser.
He is currently facing charges of violating the official secrets act, which carries a maximum term of 14 years in prison.

Although state television said he had access to “secret state financial information” and attempted to flee Myanmar, the full facts of his alleged wrongdoing have not been made public.

Human rights organizations have expressed worry about his trial, particularly when the Australian embassy was refused access to his September court session.

Myanmar routinely offers amnesty to thousands of inmates each year to commemorate the Buddhist New Year, which is generally marked by water fights in various parts of the country.

However, with the military’s brutal crackdown on opposition this year, the streets of several major cities have been deafeningly silent as people resist junta rule.


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