CSW welcomes release of political prisoners

CSW welcomes the release of 53 political prisoners as part of a mass amnesty announced by the Myanmar/Burma military to mark Myanmar’s national day.

Among the Burmese political prisoners released were Dr Myo Nyunt, a party spokesperson for the National League for Democracy, U Kyaw Tint Swe, a former Union minister in Aung San Suu Kyi’s government, Shwe Nawa Sayadaw, a Buddhist monk who had opposed the regime, satirical writer and critic of the military Maung Tha Cho, and leading pro-democracy activist Ko Mya Aye, from the 88 Generation students’ movement.

Also released were the UK’s former ambassador to Myanmar Vicky Bowman, who was arrested on 24 August after being accused of breaking visa rules, the Australian academic Sean Turnell, and the Japanese filmmaker Toru Kubota.

Since the military seized power in a coup in February 2021, there has been an extensive crackdown on activists, political leaders and other dissidents throughout the country. The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in Burma (AAPP), which has been documenting events since the coup took place, claims that only 53 of the 5,774 individuals released were political prisoners, and on 17 November the Association reported that 12,976 political prisoners remained in detention.

CSW’s Senior Analyst for East Asia Benedict Rogers said: “While we welcome the release of 53 political prisoners today, we encourage the international community to remember that nearly 13,000 remain in detention. The Myanmar army continues to silence anyone it perceives as a threat or critic. It is responsible for the deaths of over 2,400 people since the coup took place, and the situation for religious and ethnic minorities has deteriorated significantly. CSW continues to call for the immediate and unconditional release of all remaining prisoners, and for extensive and coordinated sanctions on the Myanmar military and its enterprises. A global arms embargo is essential to prevent the military from getting its hands on additional weapons with which it can wage violence on those calling for democracy.”