While the army, which took power in a coup in 2021, faces growing resistance in the north of the country, the Burmese junta announced Thursday, January 4, the amnesty of more than 9,000 prisoners, an annual measure on the occasion of the anniversary of the country’s independence.

The anniversary of Burma’s independence is usually the occasion of a military parade in the capital, Naypyidaw, followed by a speech by the head of the junta, Min Aung Hlaing. This year, the festivities were more discreet. The junta leader was absent, and a subordinate read a prepared statement in his place.

In recent months, an armed alliance of ethnic minority groups has announced the capture of military positions and major highways vital to trade with China, posing a challenge to the junta.

Among those amnestied, 114 foreign prisoners

In a statement released Thursday, the State Administration Council, as the junta is officially called, said it had “granted amnesty to 9,652 inmates in prisons and detention centers to mark the 76th anniversary of independence and to respect peace in the hearts and minds of the people.” There is no immediate indication that political detainees could be among those who would be released.

The junta also said in a separate statement that 114 foreign prisoners were among those amnestied and would be deported “for reasons of bilateral and humanitarian relations.” No further details were given.

In Yangon, the commercial capital, relatives of prisoners gathered outside Insein prison, where inmates were to be released.