Over 23,000 Myanmar prisoners granted amnesty, political activists included
Over 23,000 prisoners across Myanmar were granted amnesty and released on April 17th, the first day of the traditional New Year, including former student political activists.
The state-owned MRTV reported that 23,407 prisoners were released, under the provisions of Section 401-§1 of the penal code. In Yangon region alone over 800 prisoners were released, while Mandalay saw around 2,800 released from 5 prisons.
The law allows for conditional release, essentially allowing authorities to re-arrest the former prisoners, without warrant, and detain to them to serve the rest of their sentences if they arefound to have breached the conditions for their release.
Zayyar Lwin, Paing Ye Thu and Paing Phyo Min were among the released student political activists. They were arrested under Section 505(a) of the penal code and Section 66(d) of the Telecommunications Law, both of which are regarded by many as draconian tools to oppress dissent.
Section 505(a) makes it a crime to publish or circulate any ‘statement, rumour or report’, ‘with intent to cause, or which is likely to cause any officer to mutiny or otherwise disregard or fail in his duty as such’.
The three were arrested for writing political Thingyan poems and rhymes. Their group, “Daung Doe Myoe Sat” is well-known group for their sharp wit and insight.
The junta-led State Administration Council also issued a statement releasing 55 foreign prisoners under the same conditions.