Myanmar celebrates union day, junta amnesties prisoners
As the country faces record-high internal displacement, the military spent some $5 million on a parade and amnestied prisoners on Union Day.
The junta in Myanmar on Saturday celebrated independence day in the capital Naypyitaw, parading the city to flaunt its military strength, with its leader Min Aung Hlaing taking the opportunity to justify the coup as necessary to protect the country from domestic and foreign enemies.
Burma celebrated its 75th Union Day, which marks independence from British colonial rule, and the government followed the tradition to pardon prisoners on major holidays, announcing that 814 prisoners would be granted amnesty.
The junta kicked the day off by implementing mobile internet blackouts from 4 AM, later in the morning, army units and civil servants took to the street for the parade.
Leader Hlaing also denounced resistance to the new regime, saying the violence in the country was "causing chaos, and people are suffering."
The coup took place a bit over a year ago, and it was met with protests all over the nation denouncing the military takeover. In the latest act of protest, political prisoners in Insein prison, Yangon, reportedly began a hunger strike on Saturday, though it is not clear how many are partaking.
Following the takeover, the junta arrested thousands, including State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, who remains in an undisclosed location, as she faces charges as per which she could be sentenced to 150 years.
The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners said the security forces killed at least 1,547 people for resisting the coup. The junta argues the agency's figures are exaggerated, saying servicemen died in battles as well.
The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said Friday the number of internally displaced people (IDP) in Myanmar is growing, with more humanitarian supplies required to secure their survival.
The UNHCR reported that the overall number of IDP's has more than quadrupled since February 2021, when the military coup occurred and now exceeds 800,000 individuals.