WORLD

Reuters reporters in jail despite mass pardons in Myanmar

AFP Photo

Myanmar announced Friday a second pardon for nearly 7,000 prisoners nationwide in wake of new year.

In a statement, the presidential office said that Win Myint signed the pardon for the release of 6,948 inmates across Myanmar, bringing the total number of prisoners recently released to 16,499 since the nation's new year which starts on April 17.

Under the first presidential pardon on April 17, some 9,551 prisoners, including only two political prisoners, were released to mark the beginning of new year.

Further releases would be made, according to the statement which is void of details.

However, two Reuters journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo -- who were imprisoned for their investigation into the rights violation by the security forces in the western Rakhine state --, are not included in the pardon, according to their lawyer.

The pair, who are among Reuters staff recently winning the Pulitzer prize for international reporting, were still behind bars in Yangon's infamous Insein Prison, lawyer Khin Maung Zaw told Anadolu Agency by phone on Friday.

"As the statement mentioned there will be further pardons, family members are still hoping the release of their loved ones," he said.

Meanwhile, Assistance Association of Political Prisoners (Burma), (AAPP Burma), based in the western Mae Sot city of Thailand, said the group is still waiting information on how many political prisoners were included.

"We don't think a large number of political prisoners would be released," Bo Kyi, secretary of the non-profit human rights organization, told Anadolu Agnecy by phone.

On Monday, military-controlled Home Affairs Ministry said that there are no political prisoners in Myanmar, but only people incarcerated are in prison under the country's existing laws and penal code for criminal acts.

However, AAPP Burma said in a monthly chronicle for March that at least 45 political prisoners have been convicted since current government led by State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi took office in March 2016.

Another 94 await trial in prison, while 225 others are on bail pending trial, said the human rights NGO.

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