Former minister, writer among Myanmar prisoners freed in amnesty

Jan 5 (Reuters) - Myanmar's junta has freed a former minister in the ousted government of Aung Sang Suu Kyi and a well-known writer among political detainees given amnesty to mark the country's independence day, according to relatives and media.

State broadcaster MRTV said on Wednesday that 7,012 prisoners were due to be released under the amnesty, although it did not provide further details on the inmates.

Thura Aung Ko, a former government minister, and Htin Lin Oo, an author and official in Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party, as well as some student leaders, activists and journalists, were freed.

"Now I have arrived home from prison, but I am not free yet. It is not real freedom if I still need to fear even at home," Htin Lin Oo said by telephone on Thursday, calling for the release of all political prisoners.

The writer was arrested at the start of the coup and sentenced to three years in jail for alleged incitement.

A junta spokesman did not answer a call seeking comment, but there was no indication that Suu Kyi or jailed former President Win Myint were included in the amnesty.

Myanmar has been in chaos since the army took power from Suu Kyi's government on Feb. 1, 2021, detaining her and other officials and responding to protests and dissent with brutal force.

The U.N. Security Council last month adopted its first resolution on Myanmar in 74 years, demanding an end to violence and for the junta to free all political detainees.

Suu Kyi was recently convicted on five counts of corruption and jailed for seven more years, wrapping up a series of trials condemned internationally as a sham designed to keep the junta's biggest threat at bay.

She is being held in a jail in the capital Naypyitaw in solitary confinement and the military insists she has received due process by an independent court.

State television footage showed prisoners receiving pre-release briefings and others leaving jails in various parts of the country.

U Tate Naing, secretary of the Thai-based activist group, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), said more than 200 political prisoners had been released under the amnesty from at least 19 jails, although thousands remained in jail.

AAPP estimates 13,356 people are currently being detained for their support for the pro-democracy movement.

(Reporting by Reuters Staff Writing by Ed Davies Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)


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