BANGKOK (AP) — Several Burmese celebrities detained for criticizing the military’s takeover were released from prison on Wednesday on pardons granted by the military government, state television reported.
Celebrities released from Insein prison in Yangon include film industry personalities Lu Min, Wyne, Pyay Ti Oo, his wife Eaindra Kyaw Zin and popular model and actor Paing Takhon, MRTV reported.
All had been arrested for supporting the protest movement against the military takeover last year, which overthrew the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. They had been charged with incitement, which carries a three-year prison sentence, for encouraging government employees to join the protests.
The TV report said the reason for their release was so they could participate in nation-building through their work in the arts.
The report also says Win Min Than, a popular beauty and fashion blogger, was pardoned for her incitement conviction but remained detained as she was also found guilty of unlawful association.
A Malaysian man who was convicted and jailed for drug trafficking in 2019 was also pardoned on Wednesday on what was described as humanitarian reasons.
More than 12,000 people have been arrested since the army took over in February last year, and more than 9,400 remain in detention, according to the Association for Assistance to Political Prisoners, an advocacy group who monitors arrests.
Shortly after taking power, the military government began issuing arrest warrants for celebrities, accusing them of inciting “dissemination of information that could affect the stability of the state”.
More than 100 celebrities were on wanted lists with their photos in public media. At least 15 people were arrested last year, around half of whom were sentenced by special courts inside Insein prison.
Charges against 24 artists and 10 social media personalities were dropped last October under an amnesty order from Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, head of the ruling military council.
At least four prominent artists, including singers, who were convicted on the same incitement charge, remain in jail. according to lawyer Khin Maung Myint.
Authorities continue to issue new arrest warrants and, according to the official Myanma Alinn Daily, at least 240 people have been arrested by security forces since January 27 this year.
Filmmaker Htun Zaw Win, better known by his professional name Wyne, was arrested last month after returning to his apartment in Yangon after spending most of the past year on the run. The incitement charge against him was dropped.
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