The Myanmar Military Is Releasing More Prisoners To Stop Spread of COVID

The junta announced on Wednesday that prisoners who were incarcerated before February 1, 2021, will be released soon to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
According to the announcement, all criminal cases against those facing trial for 11 different charges, including gambling, drug-related offenses, and prostitution, will be dropped.
Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the regime cited a backlog of court hearings as the reason for the move, which coincides with growing concerns about the spread of the disease in the country’s overcrowded prisons.
Under the order, it was unclear how many prisoners would be released. According to prison authorities, no prisoners had been released as of late Wednesday.
If [the junta] dismisses the charges, we can release them. We can release them right away if they do,” said one prison officer contacted by the press.
According to him, the courts were likely still reviewing prisoner lists to determine who was eligible for release.
“We can only release them when we receive the release order. Since the detainees [who will be released] are not permanent inmates, we do not have an exact number,” said the officer.
The order, however, does not apply to opponents of the regime who have been detained since the military seized power on February 1, 2021.
“If they’re worried about prisoners catching Covid-19, shouldn’t everyone be released?” said Khin Maung Zaw, a lawyer who is part of the defense team for Myanmar’s deposed civilian government.
Concern was also expressed that the measure might result in an increase in arrests of those opposed to the junta’s rule.
This leads me to believe that they are expanding the prisons to accommodate more political activists who oppose them, said an official with the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) who asked to remain anonymous.
In the month of April, the regime released a similar number to mark the start of the Buddhist New Year. Since taking power, the regime has released many prisoners. On February 12, it announced a mass amnesty of more than 23,000 prisoners.
Several prisoners were released in the middle of the night in residential areas during the February release, which coincided with protests against the military takeover. The release was seen as an attempt to create chaos.
According to a recent statement by the regime, only six inmates of Insein Prison, the country’s largest detention facility, have contracted Covid-19 since the outbreak began in July, while 375 cases have been discovered in the country’s prison system.
He died at Yangon General Hospital on Tuesday morning after being transferred from Insein prison to a hospital for infected inmates. Nyan Win was a member of the deposed ruling party, the National League for Democracy.
Over 5,300 of those detained for anti-coup activities are still being held in Myanmar’s prisons, according to AAPP.

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