Myanmar has started releasing people imprisoned after the military coup following an announcement on state television that a total of 5600 people are to be freed.
This came after junta chief Min Aung Hlaing was barred from attending an upcoming regional summit for his failure to cooperate in de-escalating the country’s crisis.
According to the announcement, the junta will free 4320 people who are charged with various offences, as well as 1316 people convicted of what it termed anti-coup activities.
More than 600 people have been freed from prisons around the country so far.
They included one of the spokesmen for Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy, Monywa Aung Shin, the highest-ranking party official to be released so far.
The military justified seizing power on February 1 by alleging widespread voter fraud during a general election in November, which saw a landslide win for Suu Kyi’s National League of Democracy.
Hundreds of people have been waiting outside of the various prisons across the country to see their family members and friends on Tuesday evening.
“Two of my friends were released last night. I waited since evening in front of Insein prison and was very happy to see them.” Lin Lin from Yangon told dpa.
“International pressure works. Historically the release of political prisoners only happens when the juntas want to ease international pressure and gain legitimacy”, human rights activist Wai Wai Nu said on her Facebook page.
According to the non-profit Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), at least 1181 people have been killed and more than 9043 have been arrested since the coup and 7355 people are still being detained.