Myanmar Frees Political Prisoners After ASEAN Pressure, Then Jails Some Again

Myanmar’s military rulers have freed hundreds of political prisoners in recent days, including Aung San Suu Kyi’s party spokesman and a famous comedian, although several were swiftly re-arrested, local media and a rights group said.

State television announced late on Monday more than 5,600 people arrested or wanted over anti-coup protests would be granted amnesty following a speech from Myanmar’s junta chief saying his government was committed to peace and democracy.

The release was described by some activists as a ploy by the ruling military to try to rebuild its international reputation after the Association of Southeast Asian Nations took the rare step of excluding the junta chief from its summit.

Shortly after local media began late on Monday documenting the release of parliamentarians, journalists and others from Yangon’s Insein prison and facilities in Mandalay, Lashio, Meiktila and Myeik, reports followed of re-arrests.

Media could not independently verify the reports and Myanmar’s prison department spokesman and junta spokesman were not immediately available for comment.

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a non-profit group which has documented killings and arrests since the coup in February, told local radio that as of Tuesday evening around 40 people had been detained immediately after their release.

Local media, including Democratic Voice of Burma and Khit Thit Media, also reported several people were re-arrested.

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