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Myanmar Denies Release of Jailed Soldiers, Observers Skeptical

RB News
April 18, 2018

Yangon, Myanmar -- Myanmar's Presidential Spokesperson, Zaw Htay, has denied 'the report of the release of 7 military personnel jailed for Inn Din [Aan Daang] Rohingya massacre' to AFP News, while many political and human rights observers are skeptical about his denial.

MNTV, a Myanmar News TV Channel owned by Sky Net Media Group, broadcasted about the release of 97 Prisoners including the 7 jailed soldiers from Sittwe (Akyab) Prison under Presidential Amnesty.

Minutes after that, the news has gone viral on social media and Zaw Htay in a prompt interview with AFP claimed that the release of the 7 soldiers is false. Further on Facebook, he rubbished the MNTV Report as 'Fake News.'

The MNTV, on its part, has quickly removed the video from its Facebook page and later claimed that the news is untrue.

CNB (Central News Bureau) in a statement later said "in the report '97 Prisoners Released from Sittwe Prison under Amnesty' we produced based our ground report sent by Sittwe Bureau, it has mentioned that the released prisoners include the 7 soldiers jailed regarding Inn Din case, MyaTanSaung Abbot and Political Prisoner Khaing Ni Min.

"However, according to our latest reports, we have learnt that the 7 soldiers jailed under Inn Din case were not released. Therefore, we respectfully state that we have wrongfully mentioned the said fact in the report."

However, political observers and human rights activists are highly skeptical about Zaw Htay's denial of the report of the release of the 7 jailed military men.

"MNTV has also claimed that there were total 97 prisoners released. We have the list of 87 people. Where are other 10?

"Besides, Zaw Htay has a strong history of lying. Therefore, we are highly skeptical about his denial of the release of the soldiers. He could be lying again considering the seriousness of the charges against the soldiers," a political and human rights observer based in Yangon requesting not to be named.

Some activists also demand a proper investigation by the concerned international bodies into the incident.

U Maung Khin, an activist also based in Yangon, said "CNB did a live recording of the event. They have verified the report. And only after that, MNTV has broadcasted it perhaps it didn't know seriousness of the case. Later, when it has gone viral and created uproar on Social Media, Zaw Htay took his action, which is blanket denial of everything as usual.

"The home ministry and police are under the military control. So are the media. Whether they keep someone inside or outside the prison, nobody knows. They can manipulate anything. So, it demands a high level international investigation."

The 7 military personnel along with Rakhine Buddhist militia massacred 10 Rohingya villagers and buried them in a mass-grave in Inn Din in Southern Maungdaw on September 2 last year in one of many such brutal massacres of Rohingya in Arakan state in the year. When Reuters exposed the gruesome massacre of the people, Myanmar came under international pressure, which has forced the government to sentence the 7 military men to 10 years in jail.

[Report by Aung Ko Ko; Edited by M.S. Anwar]

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