Myanmar junta will free 1 600 prisoners in new year amnesty

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article

  • At 1 600 prisoners will be freed from Myanmar jails.
  • The military junta said this was to mark the Buddhist new year.
  • It would not specify which prisoners would be released.

Myanmar's junta will release over 1 600 prisoners from jails across the country on Sunday to mark the Buddhist new year, it said, without specifying whether those being pardoned were protesters or common criminals.

The Southeast Asian country has been in turmoil since the military's ouster of Aung San Suu Kyi's government last year, which sparked huge protests and a deadly crackdown.

READ | US says Myanmar committed genocide against Rohingya

Some 1 619 prisoners, including 42 foreigners had been "pardoned" and will be released to mark the new year, according to an announcement carried by state TV on Sunday morning.

It remains unclear whether anti-junta protesters or journalists jailed covering the coup will be among those freed.

There was also no mention of Australian academic Sean Turnell, a former advisor to ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was arrested shortly after the coup.

He is currently on trial for allegedly breaching the official secrets act, which carries a maximum 14-year jail sentence.

The exact details of his alleged offence have not been made public, though state television has said he had access to "secret state financial information" and had tried to flee the country.

Myanmar typically grants an annual amnesty to thousands of prisoners to mark its traditional Buddhist New Year holiday - which in previous years have been joyous affairs with city-wide water fights.

But this year, with the military continuing its bloody crackdown on dissent, the streets in many major cities have been silent as people protest junta rule.

We want to hear your views on the news. Subscribe to News24 to be part of the conversation in the comments section of this article.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Are you going to keep wearing a mask following the announcement that it is no longer required under law?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
No ways, I'm done
41% - 3440 votes
Yes, I still want to be cautious
21% - 1779 votes
Only certain circumstances
37% - 3124 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.