KOMPAS.com - Families of detained Myanmar protesters had their hopes dashed Sunday, April 17 after political prisoners were not included in some 1,600 people released by the junta to mark the Buddhist new year.
The Southeast Asian country has been in turmoil since Aung San Suu Kyi’s civilian government was ousted last year in a military coup, which sparked huge protests and a deadly crackdown.
State television announced that 1,619 prisoners, including 42 foreigners, had been “pardoned” and will be released to mark the new year -- an annual tradition that last year saw 23,000 prisoners freed.
A prisoner released from Yangon’s Insein prison told AFP that “political cases and protesters were not among those released”, with authorities only freeing criminals.
Crowds in front of the prison slowly left on Sunday afternoon. More than 100 people had gathered hoping to be reunited with loved ones, AFP correspondents said.
Among them was a woman waiting for her 19-year-old nephew, sentenced to three years imprisonment for incitement against the military.
“He was young, and he may have some feeling to fight,” she said, declining to give her name.
“I wish all young children will be released including my nephew. They all were innocent.”