Myanmar's military pardons and releases 23,000 prisoners for Burmese New Year

A woman lights a candle while others flash the three-fingered sign of resistance during a candlelight vigil to remember those who died in the military junta’s violent response to anti-coup demonstrations in Yangon, Myanmar Credit: AP

Myanmar's military announced it had pardoned and released more than 23,000 prisoners to mark the new year holiday.

However, it is not clear whether they included pro-democracy activists who were detained in protests after the military coup in February. The coup led to violent protests, where activists were arrested and killed by security forces.

State broadcaster MRTV said military leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing pardoned the 23,047 prisoners for Burmese New Year, including 137 foreigners who will be deported from Myanmar. He also reduced sentences for others.

According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, which monitors casualties and arrests, government forces have killed at least 726 protesters and bystanders since February.

It says 2,728 people, including Ms Suu Kyi, are in detention.

This is the second time the military has released prisoners early since it overthrew the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.

After the military previously released more than 23,000 convicts to mark Union Day on February 12, there were reports on social media that some were recruited by authorities to carry out violence at night to spread panic, for example, by setting fires.