Myanmar junta to release 5,000 prisoners held over coup

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Myanmar’s ruling military junta has announced to free more than 5,000 protesters jailed during bloody demonstrations following the takeover by military leaders in February.

The 5,636 prisoners would be released for humanitarian reasons, said coup leader Min Aung Hlaing, days after the general was excluded from an annual summit of regional leaders because his military forces had not done enough to end the turmoil.

The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) has instead agreed to invite a non-political representative from Myanmar.

At least 1,178 people were killed and 7,355 arrested, charged or sentenced during a crackdown on dissent that followed Aung San Suu Kyi ouster from power, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

Gen. Min said the prisoners would be released to mark the Buddhist holiday Thadingyut later in October.

“For many different reasons, they participated in violent protests,” he said.

“Among those who have been serving or facing trial, appropriate people will be given a pardon [for]the Thadingyut festival.”

Speaking on television, the junta chief insisted the military leaders were committed to peace and  his government has a five-stage plan to restore democracy.

The junta has released more than 2,000 anti-coup protesters in July. (Source: CNA)

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