Tearful Myanmar protesters are reunited with their loved ones thousands were ...

Tearful Myanmar protesters are reunited with their loved ones thousands were ...
Tearful Myanmar protesters are reunited with their loved ones thousands were ...

Tearful Myanmar protesters were reunited with their loved ones today after thousands were released by the military junta who jailed them up to eight months ago for opposing the coup that ousted Aung San Suu Kyi.

Crowds gathered on Tuesday outside prisons around the country, waiting for at least a glimpse of friends and relatives who were being freed under an amnesty for people that were arrested in February and March.

The head of the army-installed government, Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, announced the amnesty covering more than 5,600 people on Monday. 

State television said it included 1,316 convicts who would be freed from prisons around the country and 4,320 others pending trial whose charges would be suspended.

The announcement came three days after the Association of Southeast Asian Nations delivered a rare snub by declining to invite Min Aung Hlaing to an upcoming summit, even though Myanmar is part of the 10-member bloc.

Tearful Myanmar protesters were reunited with their loved ones today after thousands were released by the military junta who jailed them nine months ago for opposing the coup that ousted Aung San Suu Kyi. Pictured: A man celebrates with relatives after being released from Insein Prison in Yangon on October 19, 2021

Tearful Myanmar protesters were reunited with their loved ones today after thousands were released by the military junta who jailed them nine months ago for opposing the coup that ousted Aung San Suu Kyi. Pictured: A man celebrates with relatives after being released from Insein Prison in Yangon on October 19, 2021

Newly released detainees gather with relatives outside Insein Prison in Yangon, Myanmar on October 19, 2021. SAC released more than 5000 political detainees in the whole country

Newly released detainees gather with relatives outside Insein Prison in Yangon, Myanmar on October 19, 2021. SAC released more than 5000 political detainees in the whole country

Pictured: A bus arrives carrying released prisoners in Myanmar to a cheering crowd of relatives The head of the army-installed government, Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, announced the amnesty covering more than 5,600 people on Monday

Pictured: A bus arrives carrying released prisoners in Myanmar to a cheering crowd of relatives The head of the army-installed government, Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, announced the amnesty covering more than 5,600 people on Monday

Detainees released from Insein Prison celebrate in Yangon on October 19, 2021, as authorities released thousands of people jailed for protesting against a February coup that ousted the civilian government

Detainees released from Insein Prison celebrate in Yangon on October 19, 2021, as authorities released thousands of people jailed for protesting against a February coup that ousted the civilian government

Junta head Min Aung Hlaing announced the release of 5,636 prisoners after foreign ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) refused to invite him to the October 26-28 summit

Junta head Min Aung Hlaing announced the release of 5,636 prisoners after foreign ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) refused to invite him to the October 26-28 summit 

The move reflected ASEAN's frustration with the continued stalling of a visit to the country by its special envoy, who was appointed as part of an initiative to find a way out of the violent crisis that has gripped Myanmar since the army overthrew Aung San Suu Kyi's elected government in February.

The government had refused to grant the request of the special envoy, Brunei Second Foreign Minister Erywan Yusof, to meet with Suu Kyi. 

She has been detained since the military takeover and is being tried on several charges that her supporters say are politically motivated. 

There has been chaos in Myanmar since the coup, with more than 1,100 civilians killed in a bloody crackdown on dissent and more than 8,000 arrested, according to a local monitoring group.

Before the release, more than 7,300 were behind bars, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. Min Aung Hlaing said the release was to mark Thadingyut festival later in October.   

At Insein Prison in Yangon, which for decades has served as the main place of detention for political prisoners, a stream of buses carrying released detainees exited the gates and pushed slowly through a jubilant crowd. 

Some shouted with delight and handed roses through the vehicles' open windows.

Family members hugged and wept as they were reunited after months of uncertainty for some, with the prisoners' isolation heightened by lockdown measures meant to help contain the coronavirus pandemic.

One released detainee, who declined to identify herself to avoid drawing the authorities' attention, was crying as she stood outside the prison walls and spoke to her daughter on a mobile telephone.

'Your mother is free from the suffering,' she said, blinking away tears. 'Please come and wait for me downstairs, my daughter. I am free.'

There were similar scenes on Monday night when the first of the releases began.

Pictured: Relatives hug after protesters against the junta military takeover in February were released on Tuesday

Pictured: Relatives hug after protesters against the junta military takeover in February were released on Tuesday

State television said it included 1,316 convicts who would be freed from prisons around the country and 4,320 others pending trial whose charges would be suspended. Relatives wait for the release of their political detainee relatives outside Insein Prison in Yangon, Myanmar on October 19, 2021

State television said it included 1,316 convicts who would be freed from prisons around the country and 4,320 others pending trial whose charges would be suspended. Relatives wait for the release of their political detainee relatives outside Insein Prison in Yangon, Myanmar on October 19, 2021

Pictured: Newly released detainees get on busses after outside Insein Prison in Yangon, Myanmar on October 19, 2021. SAC released more than 5000 political detainees in the whole country

Pictured: Newly released detainees get on busses after outside Insein Prison in Yangon, Myanmar on October 19, 2021. SAC released more than 5000 political detainees in the whole country

Relatives wait for the release of their political detainee relatives outside Insein Prison in Yangon, Myanmar on October 19

Relatives wait for the release of their political detainee relatives outside Insein Prison in Yangon, Myanmar on October 19

Min Aung Hlaing's administration has justified its power grab citing alleged vote rigging in last year's elections, which Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) party won convincingly

Min Aung Hlaing's administration has justified its power grab citing alleged vote rigging in last year's elections, which Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) party won convincingly

Min Aung Hlaing tied the timing of the amnesty to the upcoming traditional Thadingyut festival of lights, suggesting that it could help restore peace and stability.

But it was seen by many people as a goodwill gesture meant to offset the unpleasant publicity from being chastised by fellow ASEAN members.

Min Aung Hlaing's government is already a pariah to many Western nations, which condemn it not only for overthrowing Suu Kyi's democratically elected government but also for using deadly force to suppress protests against its rule.

A detailed accounting by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners blames security forces for the killings of almost 1,200 civilians. The government now faces a growing insurgency in many parts of the country.

The United Nations special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Tom Andrews, welcomed the prisoners' release but said on Twitter that it came 'not because of a change of heart, but because of pressure.' 

He added that they had been detained 'illegally for exercising their fundamental human rights.'

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners says at least 9,043 people have been arrested since the takeover, and 7,355 were in detention when the amnesty was announced.

Journalists, celebrities and internet influencers were among those benefiting from the amnesty, but important political prisoners such as Suu Kyi remain in detention.

There were similar scenes on Monday night when the first of the releases began. Pictured: Newly-released prisoners wave from a bus as they depart the Insein Prison in Yangon on October 18, 2021

There were similar scenes on Monday night when the first of the releases began. Pictured: Newly-released prisoners wave from a bus as they depart the Insein Prison in Yangon on October 18, 2021

A man (C) is reunited with his family members outside the Insein Prison following his release in Yangon on October 18, 2021

A man (C) is reunited with his family members outside the Insein Prison following his release in Yangon on October 18, 2021

People react as they are reunited with their family members outside the Insein Prison following her release in Yangon on October 18, 2021

People react as they are reunited with their family members outside the Insein Prison following her release in Yangon on October 18, 2021

Pictured: A bus arrives on Monday night carrying newly-released prisoners in Myanmar

Pictured: A bus arrives on Monday night carrying newly-released prisoners in Myanmar

The release comes on the heels of ASEAN's decision to exclude miltiary chief Min Aung Hlaing from an upcoming summit of the 10-country bloc over his administration's commitment to defusing the bloody crisis.  

The bloc, widely criticised as a toothless organisation, took a strong stand after the junta rebuffed requests for a special envoy to meet 'all stakeholders' in Myanmar - seen to include ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The ASEAN statement, issued by Brunei which is hosting the summit, noted 'insufficient progress' in the implementation of a five-point plan agreed by the bloc's leaders in April to end the post-coup turmoil.

It added the situation in Myanmar 'was having an impact on regional security as well as the unity, credibility and centrality of ASEAN.' 

The junta slammed the exclusion, saying it was 'extremely disappointed and strongly objected' to

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