Myanmar: Junta releases 700 prisoners, including ex-British ambassador

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Myanmar: the junta releases 700 prisoners, including a former British ambassador

Three former ministers of the deposed government of Aung San Suu Kyi have been released.

Burma's ruling junta announced on Thursday that it would release 700 prisoners, including a former British ambassador, a Japanese journalist and an Australian adviser to the ousted government of Aung San Suu Kyi.

Ex-diplomat Vicky Bowman, Australian economic adviser Sean Turnell and Japanese journalist Toru Kubota will be released to mark the national holiday, a senior officer told AFP.

This decision had been demanded for many months by human rights organizations, which pointed to political condemnations by a junta accused of having plunged the country into a bloody conflict since the coup d' February 2021 Military Status.

Vicky Bowman, in office between 2002 and 2006, and her husband, Burmese artist Htein Lin, a former political prisoner, both arrested in August for violating immigration laws, had been sentenced to one year in prison. jail.

Like his wife, Htein Lin has been released, AFP has learned.

Mr. Turnell, an Australian economics professor, was working as an adviser to Aung San Suu Kyi when he was arrested days after the coup in February 2021.

He was sentenced in September to three years in prison for violating the Official Secrets Act.

Toru Kubota, 26, arrested in July on the sidelines of an anti-junta demonstration in Yangon, was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

A Japanese diplomatic source confirmed to AFP that he would be released today [Thursday] and was due to leave Burma for Japan also on Thursday, according to this source.

He was the fifth foreign journalist since the coup to be arrested by the junta, after Americans Danny Fenster and Nathan Maung, Pole Robert Bociaga and Japanese Yuki Kitazumi, all of whom ended up being arrested. released and expelled.

Some 48 journalists remain in jail, according to a March tally by Reporting Asean.

The fourth foreigner freed, Kyaw Htay Oo, is a Burmese holding a US passport, according to an official source.

Families gathered in front of Insein prison in Yangon, ahead of the expected announcement of the release of prisoners, described an AFP journalist present on the spot.

The release of Professor Turnell is very good news after he was taken hostage by the regime, his family and friends will rejoice, reacted to AFP independent expert David Mathieson.

But the junta shows no sign of reform and a mass amnesty does not absolve it of atrocities committed since the coup, he said recalled.

Three former ministers of ousted government of Aung San Suu Kyi, who remains incarcerated while her trial is pending, have also been released, a senior officer says of the junta.

Since the coup that plunged the country into bloody conflict, more than 2,300 civilians have been killed by security forces, according to the count of a local NGO. The junta, which accuses its opponents, has more than 3,900.

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