Burmese junta’s cruelty proved by re-arrest of political prisoners

By : Nava Thakuria

Guwahati: The recent release of some political prisoners, who actually should have not been arrested in the first place, by the ruling military junta of Myanmar (also known as Burma or Brahmadesh, which is an eastern neighbour to India) was nothing but a public-relations exercise to improve its image in the backdrop of ASEAN’s decision to exclude them from the forthcoming summits.

Shockingly, over 110 prisoners were re-arrested almost immediately after their release on 18 October. Moreover, along with the so-called amnesty, the military rulers continued violence against the people in Chin, Sagaing, Magway regions preparing for a major offensive that only reflects the junta’s tricks, stated Progressive Voice, an umbrella organisation of Burmese civil society organizations and political parties.

In its latest newsletter, the forum commented that the regime led by army top official Min Aung Hlaing claimed to release around 5,600 people from various jails. They are among 9,000 individuals, who were picked up by the military personnel for protesting against the military coup on 1 February 2021 that ousted the democratically elected government in Naypietaw.

“Diplomatic pressure from ASEAN surrounding the non-invitation of Min Aung Hlaing to their summits means that there is increased international scrutiny on their violence and brutality. Yet, despite the joy of being free again for some people, the immediate rearrest of at least 110 people is a cruel, heartless act that is designed to weaken the mental resolve and inflict psychological torture on people who were peacefully resisting an illegitimate and violent coup,” explained the newsletter.

Moreover, those released were warned not to participate in any anti-coup activities and would be forced to serve the rest of their sentences if rearrested. On the same day while those people were released, the junta was cracking down violently on a peaceful protest in Mandalay. Soldiers, some in plainclothes, drove into the protesters, before attacking them with their rifle butts, injuring 20 people and arresting a few others, said a Burmese democratic activist.

Speaking to this correspondent from an undisclosed location, Khin Ohmar added that the rainy season, which typically provides a respite to military offensives due to washed out roads, landslides, and difficult to traverse terrain, is coming to an end and all the indications based on ground movements are that the citizens will be hit the hardest in military attacks. The security personnel are burning down houses, destroying churches, and displacing local people along the roads as troops are sent to rural areas, stated Ms Ohmar.

Hence, the release of some political prisoners should not be viewed as anything other than a cynical attempt to distract ASEAN and other actors in the international community from the realities of the junta’s brutality, asserted the umbrella body adding that until all political prisoners are immediately and unconditionally released, stopped all ongoing attacks, and issued a public apology, the latest amnesty should be regarded as insincere and manipulative.

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