State television reported that 1,619 prisoners, including 42 foreigners, were “pardoned” and released on the occasion of the Buddhist New Year celebrations. Demonstrators or journalists who reported on the military coup against de facto Prime Minister Aung San Suu Kyi last year were apparently not among them.
People gather in front of prison
Around 100 people gathered in front of the Insein Detention Center in Yangon to pick up released relatives. Among those waiting was a woman hoping for the release of her 19-year-old nephew. He was sentenced to three years in prison for incitement against the military, she said. “I want all the boys to be released, including my nephew. They were all innocent.”
However, one inmate released from Insein Prison reported “political prisoners and protesters were not among those released.” Only criminals were released.
No happy water fights
The release of prisoners on New Year’s Day is a tradition in Myanmar. Last year, 23,000 prisoners were released in this way. While people in the country had merrily water fights during the celebrations in previous years, this year the streets are in many places quiet in protest against military rule.
nob/fab (afp, rtr)