Crowds outside Myanmar’s prisons greet freed detainees

BANGKOK,-- A crowd waited Tuesday in front of Myanmar's prisons to see if they could catch a glimpse at relatives and friends who were being released under an amnesty that allows people detained for protesting against the military regime.

Crowds outside Myanmar’s prisons greet freed detainees

BANGKOK,-- A crowd waited Tuesday in front of Myanmar's prisons to see if they could catch a glimpse at relatives and friends who were being released under an amnesty that allows people detained for protesting against the military regime.

On Monday, the head of the army-installed government was Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing. He announced an amnesty that would cover more than 5,600 persons. The amnesty included 1,316 prisoners who would be released from prisons across the country, and 4,320 others who were awaiting trial and whose charges would be dropped.

Three days earlier, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations made a rare snub and declined to invite Min Aung Hlaing for a summit. This despite the fact that Myanmar is a member of the 10-member bloc.

ASEAN was frustrated by the inability to arrange a visit to Myanmar by its special envoy. He was appointed to help find a solution to the violence that has gripped Myanmar ever since Aung San Suu Kyi was overthrown by the army in February.

The government refused to grant Erywan Yusof's request to meet with Suu Kyi, the Brunei Second Foreign Ministry Erywan Yusof as special envoy. Since the military takeover, she has been held and is currently being tried on several political-motivated charges.

A stream of buses with released prisoners left Yangon's Insein Prison to push through the jubilant crowd. Some shouted delight and gave roses through the open windows of the vehicles.

As they were reunited, family members wept and hugged one another after months of uncertainty. The isolation of the prisoner was heightened by lockdown measures to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

One detainee was released, but she declined to identify herself in order to avoid being identified by the authorities. She stood outside the prison walls, and began to cry as she spoke with her daughter via a mobile phone.

She said, blinking away the tears, "Your mother is free of suffering." My daughter, please come down and wait downstairs for me. I am free."

Similar scenes were seen on Monday night, when the first release began.

According to a relative of a Meiktila Prison in central Myanmar, 11 of 38 prisoners were released Monday night. According to the man, officials and members from Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy as well as street protesters were among those who were rearrested. He spoke under the condition of anonymity as he was afraid that the authorities would punish his speaking with the media.

All were charged under the Counter-Terrorism Law. However, he did not provide any further details. Acts of violence are also punished, as well as "acts persuasion and propaganda that encourage, persuade, propagandize, and recruit any person to join any terrorist group or activities related to terrorism." Officially, terrorist groups have been identified as leaders of groups opposing military rule, such as the National Unity Government underground, which considers it to be the legitimate government of the country.

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