Myanmar junta to set free thousands of anti-coup protesters

myanmar_junta_to_set_free_thousands_of_anti_coup_protesters.jpg / Myanmar will release more than 5,000 people jailed for protesting against a February coup that ousted the civilian government. The decision has been taken after the country’s junta chief was excluded from a regional ASEAN summit. More than 7,300 are currently behind bars across the country, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. (AP) Myanmar will release more than 5,000 people jailed for protesting against a February coup which ousted the civilian government, the country's junta chief has said.

A total of 5,636 prisoners will be freed to mark the Thadingyut festival later in October, Min Aung Hlaing said on Monday, days after he was excluded from a regional summit over his government's commitment to defusing the bloody crisis.

Myanmar has been mired in chaos since the coup, with more than 1,100 civilians killed in a bloody crackdown on dissent and more than 8,000 arrested according to a local monitoring group.

Families wait outside Insein prison after Myanmar’s authorities announced to free around 700 prisoners in Yangon, Myanmar June 30, 2021. (Reuters) The junta chief gave no details on who would be included in the list.

Myanmar authorities released more than 2,000 anti-coup protesters from prisons across the country in July, including journalists critical of the military government.

Those still in custody include the American journalist Danny Fenster, who has been held since being arrested on May 24.

READ MORE: Myanmar army to free 700 prisoners from Yangon’s Insein jail

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Junta shunned

The announcement of the amnesty comes after the Association of Southeast Asian Nations on Friday decided to exclude Min Aung Hlaing from an upcoming summit over the military government's handling of the crisis. 

Foreign ministers of the bloc agreed that a “non-political representative” for Myanmar would be invited to the October 26-28 summit instead. 

The bloc, widely criticised as a toothless organisation, took a strong stand after the junta rebuffed requests that a special envoy meet with “all stakeholders” in Myanmar, a phrase seen to include ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The statement noted “insufficient progress” in the implementation of a five-point plan agreed by ASEAN leaders in April to end turmoil following the coup.

The junta slammed the decision, accusing ASEAN of breaching its policy of non-interference in the domestic affairs of member states.

Myanmar, mostly ruled by the military since a 1962 coup, has been a thorn in ASEAN's side since it joined in 1997.

READ MORE: ASEAN decides not to invite Myanmar junta chief to summit this month

Source: TRTWorld and agencies

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