Myanmar junta re-arrests more than 100 anti-coup protesters released in amnesty

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Myanmar’s junta has re-arrested more than 100 released anti-coup protesters in a recent amnesty, according to a local monitoring group that tracks arrests and killings in the country.

The Southeast Asian nation has been in chaos since the February coup, with more than 1,100 killed in a crackdown on dissent and more than 8,000 detained, according to the Association for Assistance to Political Prisoners (AAPP).

On Monday, the army announced that it would release more than 5,000 people during the three-day Thadingyut Buddhist festival, sending anxious families to prisons in hopes of reuniting with their loved ones.

The actual number of people released across the country is difficult to verify, and many were released only after signing documents promising not to re-offend.

Since then, at least 110 of those pardoned have been re-arrested, according to the AAPP.

“Some were … arrested again as soon as they got home,” he said in a statement Thursday.

“Some others were told that they were on the release list, that they were taken to the jail entrance, but that they were taken back to jail on the additional charges.”

Myanmar authorities released more than 2,000 anti-coup protesters from prisons across the country in June, including journalists critical of the military government.

Among those still in custody is American journalist Danny Fenster, who has been in custody since his arrest on May 24.

The most recent amnesty comes with the military under increasing pressure to interact with its opponents, nearly nine months after taking power.

Last week, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) decided to exclude the leader of the board, Min Aung Hlaing, from an upcoming summit of the 10-country bloc over doubts about his commitment to defuse the bloody crisis.

The United States welcomed ASEAN’s unusual move, long criticized as toothless, Derek Chollet, a State Department adviser, told reporters on Thursday.

Chollet spoke during a tour of the region to consult with US allies on new ways to pressure the junta.

The coup ended the country’s brief experiment with democracy, with civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi now facing a series of charges in a junta court that could see her jailed for decades.

(AFP)