Geneva [Switzerland]: Hundreds of political prisoners in Myanmar were granted amnesty this week, the UN human rights office (OHCHR) said on Friday, but added that thousands more remain incarcerated for opposing military rule.
“The release of political prisoners in Myanmar is not only a relief to those unfairly detained, but also their families. Importantly, however, we take this opportunity to call for the release of the thousands of others who remain in detention for opposing military rule,” OHCHR Spokesperson Jeremy Laurence told journalists in Geneva, according to the UN Human Rights Office statement. To mark the country’s 75th anniversary of independence, the military junta announced this week that it would free some 7,000 prisoners, UN news reported. However, it did not specify whether those jailed as part of its brutal crackdown on dissent would be included.
Citing credible sources, the OHCHR spokesperson said that the military regime has incarcerated some 300 political prisoners. “Even as news emerged about the amnesty to mark the country’s independence day, we continued to receive reports of people being detained for opposing military rule, many of whom have been subjected to torture and ill-treatment,” he said.
“Such detentions are not only intended to silence the junta’s critics, but are also designed to instil fear,” he added Since the military coup of February 1, 2021, he said that nearly 17,000 people have been arrested and over 13,000 remain in detention.
The local monitoring group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners also believes that 300 political prisoners had been released – having identified 223, while working to verify the others.
Earlier this week, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed his deep concern over the final verdicts and sentencing of Myanmar’s ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
“We’ve been asked for a comment on the sentencing of State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and I can say that the Secretary-General expresses his deep concern over the final verdicts and sentencing of State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi…,” said Farhan Haq, deputy spokesperson for Guterres during a briefing on January 3.
Last week, CNN reported that a military court in Myanmar sentenced Suu Kyi to a further seven years in prison on charges of corruption, taking her total jail term to 33 years.
The court ruling found Suu Kyi guilty of corruption in relation to the purchase, repair and rental of a helicopter during natural disasters and state affairs, the report added.