Myanmar junta to pardon 814 prisoners in amnesty

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Myanmar’s junta said Saturday it would release more than 800 prisoners in an amnesty to mark the country’s Union Day.

According to a “pardon order in commemoration of the Diamond Jubilee Union Day,” which falls every February 12, 814 prisoners will be released, the statement by junta chief Min Aung Hlaing said.

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Those given amnesty will be mostly from prisons in commercial hub Yangon, junta spokesperson Zaw Min Tun told AFP. He did not say whether detained Australian academic Sean Turnell would be among those released.

Turnell, an Australian economics professor, was working as an adviser to ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi when he was arrested last February, just days after a military coup.

He has been charged with violating Myanmar’s official secrets law and faces a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison if found guilty.

The junta released about 23,000 prisoners on Union Day last year, with some rights groups at the time fearing the move was to free up space for opponents of the military and cause chaos in communities.

The coup on February 1, 2021 triggered mass protests and a bloody military crackdown, with more than 1,500 civilians killed and nearly 12,000 arrested, according to a local monitoring group.

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