More than 10,000 political prisoners remain unlawfully detained by the military regime which seized power in February 2021
Prison officials stand guard as they prepare for the release of prisoners outside of Insein Prison in Yangon on April 17. (Photo: AFP)
Pro-democracy activists in Myanmar have urged the public to take part in a blue shirt campaign to show solidarity with political prisoners.
People were requested to wear blue shirts on April 21 and post selfies on Facebook and Twitter as part of a campaign to remember those illegally detained in prisons by the junta.
“We urge people at home and abroad to remember the suffering of political prisoners still behind bars. Do not forget them or their family members who face grueling challenges,” said the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP).
The AAPP said it has been over a year since the military coup and 10,271 political prisoners, 996 of whom have been sentenced while 9,725 await trial, remain unlawfully detained.
April 21 marked the eighth anniversary of the death of former political prisoner Win Tin, a veteran journalist and founding member of Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy.
He wore a blue prison shirt from his release in 2008 after spending 19 years behind bars until he died on April 21, 2014, to show solidarity with political prisoners.
Despite calls by world leaders for the junta to end the violence, the military regime has continued its reign of terror against civilians across the country
Burma Campaign UK also urged people to wear blue to raise awareness of Myanmar’s political prisoners and post a picture on social media using the hashtag #blueshirt4burma.
“Let’s speak out for all Burma’s political prisoners and call for their immediate release,” the group said.
The US embassy in Myanmar posted a photo of Win Tin on its Twitter account and said: “The United States continues to work with our international partners to address human rights abuses and press the regime to cease the violence, release all those unjustly detained, allow unhindered humanitarian access, and restore Burma’s path to democracy.”
Despite calls by world leaders for the junta to end the violence, the military regime has continued its reign of terror against civilians across the country.
Peaceful protesters who took to the streets have faced a brutal crackdown by security forces while the junta has arrested hundreds of anti-coup activists, members of people’s defense forces and civilians who are accused of supporting them.
Religious leaders including Pope Francis have called on the junta to release all detained people and pursue dialogue to seek peace and reconciliation.
At least 1,700 people have lost their lives in the military crackdown and over 13,000 people have been detained since the February 2021 putsch.
The junta released around 1,600 prisoners, including 42 foreigners, in an amnesty to mark Burmese New Year on April 17 but there were no political prisoners among those released.
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