Myanmar releases 6,000 prisoners in mass amnesty

Myanmar coup has potential to be a ‘catastrophe’ says expert

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The Myanmar military has released 6,000 prisoners including four foreign captives under an amnesty, their media has reported. Myanmar Now, an independent news outlet in the country, cited the military council as saying the prisoners had been granted their freedom due to it being Myanmar National Day on November 17.

The Irrawaddy on Twitter posted details about the four foreigners who had been granted pardon.

It wrote: “NLD (National League for Democracy) economic advisor Sean Turnell, former British ambassador Vicky Bowman and her husband Ko Htein Lin and Japanese filmmaker Toru Kubota are to be released by Myanmar regime in its mass amnesty on Thursday.”

The NLD is a liberal democrat political party in Myanmar that came to power following a landslide election in 2015 and was re-elected on 2020, but was overthrown by a military coup in 2021.

Aung San Suu Kyi is one of the founders of the party and served as the NLD’s President in Myanmar.

The coup in February last year crushed hopes for democracy in the country, which had been making some progressive reforms since the ruling military junta was dissolved in 2011.

Vicky Bowman served as the UK’s envoy to Myanmar between 2002 and 2006, and at the time of her arrest she was in charge of the Yangon-based Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business (MCRB).

She was detained earlier this year alongside Toru Kobuta, while Sean Turnell was imprisoned shortly after the coup.

Ms Bowman and her husband Ko Htein were charged with failing to register that they were living at a different address, as they had been arrested while returning to the city from their residence in Shan State.

However, it is likely this was an excuse due to her wider political activities.

The military in Myanmar has been accused of a number of human rights violations since it seized power.

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So far it has arrested over 16,000 people and killed more than 2,400 since February last year.

Myanmar’s ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi is still in prison after being sentenced the same day as Ms Bowman to another three years.

This is in addition to the 17 years she is already serving for a number of offences including alleged election fraud.

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