In the eight months since the coup, the Myanmar junta has arrested more than 9,000 people.
In the eight months since the coup, the Myanmar junta has arrested more than 9,000 people.

Prisoner Releases Don't Reflect Change in Myanmar Military's Respect for Human Rights: HRW

English Myanmar human rights military
Wahyu Dwi Anggoro • 21 October 2021 09:56
Bangkok: The Myanmar junta’s recent prisoner releases are limited in scope and do not reflect a broader change in the military’s respect for human rights, Human Rights Watch said today. 
On October 18, the State Administrative Council junta announced that it was pardoning 1,316 people and dropping charges against 4,320 who “participated in protests.” 
The junta provided no details about the terms of the releases or how they were being carried out.

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According to the human rights watchdog, concerned governments should increase pressure on the junta to release all political prisoners, end abuses against protesters and others, and commit to promptly restore democratic rule.
"The partial release of wrongfully held detainees should not distract from the junta’s egregiously abusive rule, which hasn’t changed,"said Linda Lakhdhir, HRW's Asia legal adviser in a press release on Thursday.
"Some of those released have already been rearrested. The junta should release all those unjustly held since the coup, including high-profile political figures, and end all arbitrary arrests," Lakhdir added.
The Myanmar junta did not provide a list of those being released or their locations. 
As of October 19, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), a local nongovernmental organization that has documented arrests, prosecutions, and releases since the February 1 coup, had only been able to confirm the release of 189 prisoners, including 14 journalists. 
"The authorities’ lack of transparency and immediate rearrest of some released prisoners reinforce the need to keep the pressure on to release all political prisoners," Lakhdhir said. 
In the eight months since the coup, the junta has arrested more than 9,000 people, with more than 7,100 still in detention as of October 19, the AAPP said. 
Those still detained include the senior leadership of the National League for Democracy, including its de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, the deposed president Win Myint, elected members of parliament, and dozens of journalists. 
"Governments should not mistake these releases as a sign that the junta is taking a new approach," Lakhdhir said. 
"Instead, the releases appear to be a cynical gesture to blunt growing international pressure to sanction the junta and its generals," Lakhdir concluded.

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