Burmese authorities will release around 700 prisoners from Insein prison in Yangon on Wednesday, prison chief Zaw Zaw told Reuters, in a release that is expected to include some of the thousands of people held for opposing the military regime.
The prison chief said he did not have a list of those released, but the Burmese-language BBC news indicated they would include people accused of incitement after denouncing the coup.
Crowds of people gathered ahead of the release outside Insein Prison, a colonial-era prison on the outskirts of Yangon’s commercial center, photographs were shown on social media.
Myanmar Now news portal reported that around 2,000 prisoners across the country are believed to be released. An official from the prison department declined to comment.
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Since the junta toppled the elected government of Nobel Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi on February 1, authorities have faced daily strikes that have crippled official and private affairs, while ethnic insurgencies, which have beset the Myanmar for decades, also erupted.
Many people have been arrested under section 505A of the penal code, which criminalizes comments that may frighten or spread false news and carries a sentence of up to three years in prison.
More than 5,200 people are detained, according to the militant group of the Association for the Assistance to Political Prisoners. It also says 883 people were killed – a figure disputed by the junta.
Army-run television station Myawaddy said on Tuesday that authorities had dropped charges against 24 celebrities who had been declared wanted under the anti-incitement law after anti-government comments.
Actors, athletes, social media influencers, doctors and teachers are among the hundreds of people wanted for opposing the junta.
Suu Kyi, 76, along with other members of her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), have been detained since the military toppled her elected civilian government.
She is charged with a range of offenses ranging from bribery and violating coronavirus protocols to illegal possession of two-way radios and incitement to commit crimes against the state – allegations her lawyers dismiss .
Army says it took power after accusing Suu Kyi’s party of a manipulated vote that brought it to power in a November ballot, though then-election commission dismissed his complaints . The NLD said they won fairly.