Myanmar’s government has freed more than 2,200 people it detained in anti-coup protests, including journalists and protesters who have been held for months.
Myanmar has seen mass demonstrations against the military coup on Feb. 1, when the military seized power, detained the country’s elected leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, and members of her party, and imposed a year-long state of emergency.
As of July 1, a total of 6,462 people, including celebrities and journalists, have been detained, according to non-profit the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. More than 885 people have been killed, and 5,195 people remain in detention, it said.
On Wednesday Jun. 30, friends and families of detainees gathered and waited outside Yangon’s Insein prison after the government announced the release, hoping their loved ones would be among those freed.
A military spokesperson told outlet The Irrawaddy a total of 2,296 were released, adding they took part in protests but not in leading roles and “didn’t participate in violent acts.”
The release came following condemnation from Western countries over the coup and ongoing international pressure on the military to free political prisoners.
Video and photos showed the detainees, mostly young people, pouring off buses to reunite with their families.
Human rights organizations said the releases have simply been intended to appease the international community.
“Today’s events intend to make it seem like there has been a relaxation in the junta’s oppression. This is not the case,” AAPPB said. “The junta is releasing people whilst arrests go on.”