The military is freeing four foreigners as part of a prisoner amnesty to mark Myanmar’s Independence Day, reports said.
Myanmar’s military has released an Australian student, a Japanese filmmaker and a former British ambassador as part of a prisoner amnesty, according to media reports.
Major General Zaw Min Tun told Voice of Myanmar and Yangon Media Group on Thursday that Sean Turnell, Toru Kubota and Vicky Bowman, as well as an unidentified American, were released and deported.
There was no independent confirmation when he was released.
Turnell, 58, an associate professor of economics at Sydney’s Macquarie University who works as an economic adviser to leader-elect Aung San Suu Kyi, was arrested by the military at a hotel in Yangon shortly after the February 2021 coup.
In September he was sentenced to three years in prison for violating the country’s privacy and immigration laws.
Kubota, a 26-year-old Tokyo-based filmmaker, was arrested on July 30 by plainclothes police in Yangon after taking photos and videos last year of a small protest against the military takeover.
He was found guilty last month by a prison court for taking part in protests and other crimes and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Bowman, 56, a former UK ambassador to Myanmar, was arrested along with her husband, a Myanmar national, in Yangon in August.
He was jailed for one year in September for failing to register his house.
Myanmar has been in a state of political upheaval since last year, after authorities arrested civil society leaders including Aung San Suu Kyi in the early hours of February 1, 2021.
The seizure of power has led to mass protests, which have turned into resistance to military rule. Myanmar authorities have responded forcefully, killing at least 2,465 people, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a civil society group.
Another 13,000 people have been arrested, the group said.
The independent newspaper Myanmar Now, said that the army said that the pardons were given because it was Myanmar’s national anniversary.
“On National Day, the military council announced that about 6,000 prisoners had been released. Among them were four foreigners and 11 prominent people,” the article said.