Among those released is the former British ambassador to Myanmar, Vicky Bowman, who was sentenced to prison for falsifying address information.
17.11. 19:32•Updated 17.11. 19:37
Myanmar’s military junta has said it will release nearly 6,000 prisoners.
Among those released is, among others, the former British ambassador to Myanmar Vicky Bowmanan Australian assistant professor Sean Turnell and a Japanese documentarian Toru Kubotawho have already left the country and landed in Bangkok.
Myanmar has been in turmoil since last year’s military coup, as the junta has sought to suppress dissent.
According to the organization that helps political prisoners, more than 16,000 people have been imprisoned since the coup in February last year.
In addition, more than 2,300 people have died. In July, two pro-democracy activists were executed in Myanmar, Kyaw Min Yu and Phyo Zeya Thaw. They both belonged to the outcast Aung San Suu Kyi to lead the party.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is pleased with the prisoners’ releases, but points out that the military junta has shown no signs of openness.
He describes the events in Myanmar as an “incredibly dark time”.
The ambassador went to jail because of a wrong address
Vicky Bowman was the British Ambassador to Myanmar from 2002 to 2006. She was arrested with her husband in August, because she had not declared that she lived at a different address than what was in her official records. Both were sentenced to one year in prison.
Bowman’s spouse, a Myanmar artist Htein Linwill also be released.
British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has said he welcomes the release of Bowman and others, but calls for the release of all those wrongfully imprisoned.
Assistant professor Sean Turnell, on the other hand, worked as Suu Kyi’s financial advisor.
Kubota, a Japanese national, was arrested along with two Myanmar nationals in Tangon near an anti-regime protest while he was filming it. He was sentenced to 10 years.
Hundreds gathered to wait for their loved ones to be freed
Hundreds of people gathered in front of a prison in Yangon on Thursday, waiting to see if their loved ones would be among those released.
One woman, who remained anonymous, told news agency AFP that she was waiting for her husband, who had been sentenced to prison for encouraging dissent.
Speaker of the regime ousted in a military coup Linn Thant told in July that the ruling junta is resorting to violence because it has not succeeded in consolidating its power in the past year and a half.
Expert David Mathieson tells news agency AFP that the military junta has shown no signs of reform, and the amnesty of prisoners does not absolve the military junta of its atrocities.
AFP, AP, Reuters
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* News edited November 17, 2022 at 7:36 p.m.: Corrected Vicky Bowman’s last name at the beginning of the story to the correct form.
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