Benefit of Pardon and Remission by the Military Council

Myanmar Spring Chronicle – August 01 Scenes

MoeMaKa, August 02, 2023

Benefit of Pardon and Remission by the Military Council


When the Chairman of the Military Council held the Consecration Ceremony of the Buddha statue named Marawijaya Buddha statue on August 1st, the second Fullmoon Day of Waso, it released the news that over 7,700 prisoners were granted pardon as the commemoration of Dhammacakka Sutta Day, and at the same time, it announced the remission of some of the charges convicted against Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and U Win Myint according to Section 401.


In addition, the punishment of those who were sentenced to death was changed to life imprisonment, and 72 of those who were arrested and sentenced for being in connection with ethnic armed groups or members of armed groups were also granted amnesty. This news was released separately.


The remission of only a small amount of the punishments imposed on Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and U Win Myint is a long way from the expected unconditional release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and is not a sign that the current political problem will be resolved.


Looking at the announcement that more than 7,700 prisoners have been granted pardons, it is difficult to verify whether this number has actually been released. Moreover, over 90 percent of those released are not those arrested and convicted for political crimes but those convicted for civil crimes. After the military coup, the military council has been arresting, prosecuting, and punishing the political opposition and those who aid and support the PDF armed movements uncontrollably. As a result, there are tens of thousands of people arrested in prisons, and well-known prisons like Yangon and Mandalay are exceeding their capacity. In the state of overflowing prisons, when announcing pardons around 3 times a year, most of the people convicted of civil crimes are released, and some well-known political activists, journalists, and celebrities are added to these numbers. This way, the military council is used to spreading propaganda.


This time, the amnesty included only a handful of well-known people who were freed, and the military council aimed to include a few years of the sentences of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and U Win Myint in the pardon.


The military council has once again denied reports that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has been moved from prison to a more comfortable deputy minister’s residence, which emerged in recent days, canceling the news that there is a possibility of talks with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Referring to the widespread armed conflicts in Myanmar, the military council extended the state of emergency declaration, or, in other words, the military’s takeover of power, for another six months under the pretext that opinions and criticisms would be raised if elections were held under the current situation.


The situation in 2023 is very different from the situation in 1990s and the beginning of 2000, when the demand and expectations for the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi during the SPDC (State Peace and Development Council) regime were different. During the SPDC regime, demand for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s release was a movement by a political party, and it led to dialogue. The situation after 2021 is that armed attacks are at the forefront, and the dialogue path is an unpopular background situation.


In this situation, if they choose to release Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, there is no doubt that the military council will consider it depending on the benefits for them. If Daw Aung San Suu Kyi were to be released, would she say that she does not believe in or support the path of armed resistance and that the political problem must be solved by political means? If it were to be said, there could be a guess as to whether there would be disunity between the groups that aim to root out the military regime through armed means, with different views among them. The military council would doubt that this prediction would actually happen.


If Daw Aung San Suu Kyi did not make any comment on the armed movement and only took the position of demanding the cancellation of the 2020 election results, the military council would see nothing to gain from her release.


It can be said that there is no way that the military council will decide to release Daw Aung San Suu Kyi as an attempt to reduce international diplomatic pressure and economic sanctions. The military council was concerned about the re-emergence of a political movement that aims to oppose the military dictatorship on the ground locally, if Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is released, so they declared the remission order of only a few charges. That makes it look like the military council has helped involuntarily in a way where there will be no division and confusion among the forces opposing the military council.