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‘It’s a set-up’: Many activists in Myanmar remain unconvinced by junta’s offer to pardon protesters

‘It’s a set-up’: Many activists in Myanmar remain unconvinced by junta’s offer to pardon protesters
Myanmar’s military junta has offered to drop charges against protesters on the condition that they come forward to authorities, though many demonstrators say they fear that the move is a ruse to catch dissidents.

Myanmar’s military rulers announced that they'll waive the sentences for some protesters on their 'wanted' list, according to a state media report on Friday. “Those wishing to return home of their own accord... may trustfully contact the following telephone numbers or nearby police stations, district and township administration bodies,” the statement read.

According to the state-run local media, defendants wanted for alleged crimes of murder, arson or attacks on troops would not be included among the pardoned protesters.

Despite the offer of amnesty from the military junta, many protesters are not convinced that it is genuine. Wanted activist Khin Myat Myat Naing argued that the move could be a “set-up,” while freelance journalist Sai Tun has vowed that “as long as the army is there, we will be fugitives”, as cited by Reuters.

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Non-profit organization the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma), has reported that as of August 6, 948 people have been killed by the junta and over 7,000 have been arrested.

Under the law of the military government, anti-coup demonstrators could be imprisoned for up to twenty years for inciting “hatred or contempt” towards the army regime.

Myanmar has been in the grip of unrest since a military coup ousted democratically elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and others in February. Since the overthrow of the government, protests on the country's streets and online have become commonplace.

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The army rejected the results of the election in November 2020 that saw Suu Kyi win the presidential race, stating that there was unfair campaigning and calling for a re-run that is “free and fair.” The General in the ruling military group, Min Aung Hlaing, has promised to hold elections in 2023.

Alongside political turbulence, Myanmar is also experiencing a dire food crisis, with the United Nations’ World Food Programme warning on Friday that 6.3 million people there could experience food shortages in the next six months.

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