155 Chinese loggers freed in Myanmar amnesty initiative

World Today

A group of 155 Chinese citizens jailed for illegal logging in Myanmar have returned home, after being handed over to China on Thursday as part of Myanmar’s massive amnesty initiative for thousands of prisoners.

The loggers arrived in Tengchong county, in southwest China’s Yunnan province, by bus on Thursday night, and have reunited with their families.

On July 22, they were sentenced to 10-35 years in prison by the Myitkyina District Court in northern Myanmar’s Kachin State, for violating a 1963 law against destroying public property. They had been detained for months after their arrest in January.

China’s Foreign Ministry lodged a representation after the sentencing, demanding that Myanmar deal with the case “in a lawful, reasonable and justified manner.”

The government freed them on July 30 in a mass amnesty granting to 6,966 prisoners, including 210 foreigners.

Under the terms of the amnesty, the released foreign prisoners were deported starting Thursday, a move seen by analysts as a gesture by the government to enhance ties with other countries.