What does the amnesty granted by the military council mean?

Myanmar Spring Chronicle – November 18 Scenes
MoeMaKa, November 19 2022

What does the amnesty granted by the military council mean?

The military council announced that nearly 6,000 soldiers would be released on National Day, which falls on the 10th day following the full moon day of Tazaungmone. Among those released, it said that more than 700 people related to politics were included. The remaining 5,000 are those who have been convicted of crimes. The list of over 700 people has not been published and according to survey by each prison, it is seen that there were no more than 100 people who had been released related to politics.

A rough analysis of the criteria for the release by the military council shows that a small number of foreigners who were arrested and imprisoned for political reasons, the chairman and some members of the Union Election Commission, policymakers from the NLD party leaders, some people who are not as important as the decision makers, some of the journalists who have fewer sentences left, some of the artists who have been arrested under Section 505 (A) and participated in the protests, and some of those who were arrested and punished under Section 505 (A) for writing against the military council on social media were included.

Among those from all walks of life, those who have fewer punishments left, those who are not considered to have a strong attitude towards the military, and those who no longer show strong support for the NLD, even though they were in charge of the government and the union-level organizations during the time of the NLD, have been released. It is estimated that it is intended to create a layer of people with a soft attitude for the election to be held next year. This is the goal for the domestic political landscape. The release of the 4 foreigners is intended to reduce international pressure to a certain extent, and the release of Myanmar citizens who were affiliated with politics may also reduce international pressure to some extent.

Last year, there were 2 notable amnesties, in June and October, and then, only after 1 year, this significant amnesty was granted. The situation at the time of last year’s amnesty was when the PDF armed movement was gaining traction, and protestors who did not join the armed movement as well as non-leaders of the non-violent political movement were released. 

After that, PDF movements and battles have taken place in the ethnic regions, central Myanmar, Sagaing and Magway until now. As for the urban guerrilla activity in the cities, we see a decrease in numbers compared to last year.

Now, when the prisoners are released with amnesty, you can see that those who have been convicted under the anti-terrorist section, defamation of the state, treason and those relating to explosive materials and the armed movement, are completely not included.

If you look into this fact, among the political prisoners who did not choose the armed path, those with less punishment and some prominent ones were released. It may be considered that the military council is directing the external political landscape toward a non-violent political path so that the political parties will participate in the election. It can be concluded that this is the intended strategy of the military council. How successful or not this strategy will be, will have to be observed in the coming months.

According to many events of the last 2 years, when some of the political opponents were arrested and lost their lives during interrogation by the military using weapons, Myanmar political journey is no longer on the trend of the non-violent path and most have voted for the armed path. Now, the civil war is waging more widespread.

While the civil war is waging in Kayah State, Karen State, Sagaing Division, Kachin State, and Rakhine State, in some places, it is going to wage again. So I would like to say that it remains to be seen whether a political solution will be found in a non-violent way.