Myanmar’s junta pardoned more than 2,000 political prisoners to mark a Buddhist holiday on Wednesday, May 3, with families rushing to prisons for tearful reunions with loved ones jailed the military government in a sweeping crackdown on opposition figures and dissenters.
The military has arrested thousands of protesters and activists since the February 2021 coup that ended Myanmar’s democratically elected government.
Pardons were granted to “2,153 prisoners serving sentences under Penal Code 505 (a) to mark Kasone Full Moon Day”, a festival marking the birth of the Buddha, the junta said in a statement.
The military ordered the pardons “for the peaceful mind of the people and on humanitarian grounds,” it said.
Those who re-offend will have to serve the remainder of their sentence with an additional penalty, it added.
About 50 people gathered outside Yangon’s sprawling, colonial-era Insein prison following the announcement, according to AFP.
Myanmar typically grants amnesties to thousands of prisoners to mark national holidays or Buddhist festivals.
More than 21,000 people have been arrested since the military ousted Aung San Suu Kyi’s government, according to a local monitoring group.
Suu Kyi has been detained since the early hours of the coup.
At least 170 journalists have been arrested during that time, according to the United Nations.