NEWLY elected President of Myanmar, Win Myint has pardoned over 8,000 prisoners on the ground of peace, pleasure, and humanitarian.
Reuters reports that the pardon signed by President Myint, coincides with Myanmar’s traditional new year celebrations and was aimed at promoting peace and the joy of the people, his office said in a statement.
Myanmar began releasing more than 8,000 prisoners on Tuesday on humanitarian grounds under a presidential pardon, with most of those being released convicted of drug offences but with 36 people classified as political prisoners among them.
“To bring peace and pleasure to people’s heart, and for the sake of humanitarian support, 8,490 prisoners from respective prisons will be pardoned,” the Presidential Office said.
Dozens of prisoners were set free later on Tuesday from Insein prison in Myanmar’s main city of Yangon, greeted at the gates of the colonial-era jail by scores of relatives and friends.
“I’m happy for this amnesty but I’m sorry for the other prisoners left behind,” said Saw Wah Lay, a member of a political party affiliated with an ethnic Karen insurgent group, the Karen National Liberation Army.
He said he had spent 13 years in Insein jail after being sentenced to death and a 95-year prison term for murder and other charges.
“I hope they will be released soon because some of them are facing unfair charges without having done anything wrong,” he told reporters.
Two Reuters reporters, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, jailed in Myanmar were not included in the amnesty, according to Min Tun Soe, spokesman of Myanmar Prisons Department, citing ongoing legal proceedings against them.
More than 6,000 of those being released were sentenced on drug charges, government spokesman Zaw Htay said on his Facebook page.
He did not identify any of those being released but said nearly 2,000 were members of the military and police, jailed under the Military Act or Police Disciplinary Act. He did not elaborate.
Zaw Htay also said 36 prisoners on a list issued by the human rights group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) were included in the amnesty.
Hundreds of political prisoners have been released from Myanmar’s jails in amnesties in recent years, including dozens freed in April 2016, days after Nobel laureate Suu Kyi’s party took power following nearly 50 years of strict military rule.