Myanmar Release 25000 Prisoners By Amnesty
After rising calls on risks of overcrowded prisons leading to a sharp rise in coronavirus cases, Myanmar decided to release more than a quarter of prisoners.
In April during the New Year holiday, the countries in Southeast Asia generally provide an annual amnesty to thousands of prisoners, but this is the highest ever prisoner-release of the country.
“To mark Myanmar New Year, by respecting humanitarian ground and peace in mind of the people, the president pardons altogether 24,896 prisoners from various prisons,” the president’s office said, in a statement.
So far, Myanmar has reported 85 confirmed COVID-19 cases but experts fear that the real figures could be many more as the country has a low testing rate.
The country is under complete lockdown and the pressure was building up to release prisoners from what Human Rights Watch (HRW) describes as “horribly overcrowded and unsanitary” jails.
The statement also said that 87 foreign inmates included in the amnesty would be deported.
The release would start immediately, a senior official from the prison department in Myanmar’s capital Naypyidaw said without sharing any other details.
A Rohingya activist, who requested not to be named, said he had heard nearly 1,500 Rohingya Muslim prisoners are also included in the list.
In Myanmar, around 100,000 are currently imprisoned whereas space is just for 62,000, according to HRW.
Last year’s amnesty led to the high-profile release of two Reuters journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who were behind bars for more than 500 over their reporting on the Rohingya crisis.