Myanmar junta leader Min Aung Hlaing is set to join an Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in Indonesia April 24 as military rulers plan to release more than 23,000 prisoners nationwide, Reuters reported Sunday.
The country has been in turmoil since Hlaing overthrew an elected government led by democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Myanmar's security forces have killed 728 people in a bid to crush protests, an activist group said.
Myanmar authorities said they will free 23,184 detainees from prisons across the country starting Saturday, under a New Year amnesty, according to a Prisons Department representative, although few if any activists arrested were expected to be among them.
"We will release more than 800 prisoners from the Insein prison," a prison official said, declining to elaborate.
Saturday is the first day of Myanmar's traditional New Year and the last day of a five-day holiday that is usually celebrated with visits to Buddhist temples and partying in the streets.
Authorities have detained more than 3,100 people - majority of them anti-coup activists and protesters - since the coup, local monitoring organization Assistance Association for Political Prisoners said.
Pro-democracy activists called for the cancellation of the New Year holiday festivities and instead for people to focus on a campaign to revive democracy after the military ousted Suu Kyi.
Myanmar's neighbors have been trying to encourage talks between the junta and the ousted government. Military leaders have so far shown little interest to engage.
Several ASEAN leaders, among them the Junta chief, confirmed they would attend the meeting in Jakarta, according to Thai foreign ministry representative Tanee Sangrat.
A representative for the junta did not answer calls seeking comment.