Myanmar: Hundreds of political prisoners released, but thousands remain in jail, says UN

Hundreds of political prisoners in Myanmar were granted amnesty this week, the UN human rights office (OHCHR) said, but thousands more remain incarcerated.


“The release of political prisoners in Myanmar is not only a relief to those unfairly detained, but also their families,” OHCHR Spokesperson Jeremy Laurence told the media Friday in Geneva.


“Importantly, however, we take this opportunity to call for the release of the thousands of others who remain in detention for opposing military rule.”


To mark the country’s 75th anniversary of independence, the military junta which seized power nearly two years ago, announced this week that it would free some 7,000 prisoners.


However, it did not specify whether those jailed as part of its brutal crackdown on dissent would be included.


The OHCHR spokesperson said the military regime incarcerated some 300 political prisoners.


“Even as news emerged about the amnesty to mark the country’s independence day, we continued to receive reports of people being detained for opposing military rule, many of whom have been subjected to torture and ill-treatment,” he added.


Since the military coup of February 1, 2021, nearly 17,000 people have been arrested and over 13,000 remain in detention, Jeremy said.


The local monitoring group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners also believes that 300 political prisoners had been released – having identified 223 while working to verify the others.


However, the UN official said on the very day that they were released, another 22 political prisoners were detained. “Such detentions are not only intended to silence the junta’s critics but are also designed to instil fear.”


As this year marks the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk has called for an end to arbitrary detention once and for all.


The UN rights chief called on governments and all detaining authorities globally to put the milestone Declaration into action by granting an amnesty, pardon or by simply releasing all those detained for exercising their rights.


“The pathway out of Myanmar’s crisis is not by locking people up – it is by allowing them to freely, fully, and effectively participate in political life,” Jeremy said.


Source: United News of Bangladesh