Myanmar’s junta to release 700 prisoners, including a former British ambassador
Issued on: 17/11/2022 – 04:31
Myanmar’s junta said Thursday it will release 700 prisoners, including a former British ambassador, a Japanese journalist and an Australian adviser to Aung San Suu Kyi’s ousted government as part of a prisoner amnesty to mark the country’s National Victory Day.
The Southeast Asian country has been in turmoil since the military’s coup last year and a bloody crackdown on dissent that has seen thousands jailed.
Former British envoy Vicky Bowman, economics adviser Sean Turnell and Japanese journalist Toru Kubota “will be released to mark National Day”, a senior officer told AFP.
Bowman, who served as ambassador from 2002 to 2006, was detained with her husband in August for failing to declare she was living at an address different from the one listed on her foreigner’s registration certificate.
They were later jailed for one year. Her husband, prominent artist Htein Lin, will also be released, the official said.
Sean Turnell was working as an adviser to ‘s civilian leader Suu Kyi when he was detained shortly after the coup in February last year.
In September, he and Suu Kyi were convicted by a closed junta court of breaching the official secrets act and jailed for three years each.
Kubota, 26, was detained in July near an anti-government rally in Yangon along with two Myanmar citizens and jailed for 10 years.
A source at Japan’s embassy in Myanmar told AFP they had “been informed that Mr. Kubota will be released today” by junta authorities.
Kubota would leave for “today”, they added.
Kubota is the fifth foreign journalist to be detained in Myanmar, after US citizens Nathan Maung and Danny Fenster, Robert Bociaga of Poland and Yuki Kitazumi of Japan — all of whom were later freed and deported.
As of March this year, 48 journalists remain in custody across the country, according to the monitoring group Reporting ASEAN.
Families gathered outside Insein prison in Yangon ahead of the expected announcement, an AFP reporter said.
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