Hundreds of people imprisoned over the past two months for engaging in demonstrations against the February 1 military coup d’état in Myanmar were released by the ruling junta Wednesday. Amongst those released was Thein Zaw, an AP journalist arrested nearly a month ago for covering demonstrations in Myanmar.
While the junta’s reason for releasing all these prisoners has not been offered publicly, it is likely an effort to attempt to appease anti-coup protestors and stifle the demonstrations that have occurred regularly since the democratically elected members of the government were deposed by the junta last month.
As anti-junta sentiment continues to persist, so do the violent and aggressive crackdowns against demonstrators from security forces.
Since the February 1st coup, at least 275 people have been killed and at least 2,812 have been arrested during these brutal military crackdowns according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. Many assert that the death toll and arrest counts are actually much higher than reports reflect.
The release of hundreds of prisoners Wednesday is an anomaly in behavior from the ruling junta, which has previously been largely undeterred by mounting international pressure, reproofs, and sanctions. https://todaynewsafrica.com/designating-officials-and-military-units-in-response-to-escalating-violence-in-burma/
The newly released Thein Zaw expressed gratitude for those that worked toward his freedom but also drew attention toward the many journalists and prisoners who remain in custody, saying, “Thanks to all who tried so hard for my release… But one thing that upsets me is that there are some people who are still inside, and I hope that they can get out as soon as possible.”
Despite the dangers of the increasingly brutal crackdowns by security forces, activists continue to protest and participate in the movement. Wednesday, activists engaged in a “silent strike”- closing places of business and staying inside their homes all day.
Ian Phillips, AP vice president for international news, expressed relief after Thein Zaw’s release but went on to say, “Our relief is tempered by the fact that additional journalists there remain detained. We urge Myanmar to release all journalists and allow them to report freely and safely on what is happening inside the country.”