NewsAsiaMyanmar military junta executes four pro-democracy activists

    Myanmar military junta executes four pro-democracy activists

    Military authorities, who have controlled Myanmar since the February 1, 2021 coup, have executed four imprisoned activists, the first such cases in decades. The victims include Phyo Zeya Thaw, a former MP from ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, and prominent democracy activist Kyaw Min Yu. All were indicted on different terrorism-related charges.

    Shock and revulsion in Myanmar at the decades-long use of capital punishment.

    The media controlled by the military junta reported this Monday, July 25, that four imprisoned activists were executed. All had been sentenced in closed trials this year, after being arrested after the February 1, 2021 coup, in which military authorities arrested leader Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint, who continue to be deprived of their freedom.

    Among the men killed is Phyo Zeya Thaw, a former MP from ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party. Also known as Maung Kyaw, he was sentenced by a closed military court for offenses related to possession of explosives, bombings and financing of terrorism.

    The world needs to hold the military accountable for executions. “They have to pay,” said his wife, Thazin Nyunt Aung, after learning what had happened.

    The 41-year-old former lawmaker had been a hip-hop musician before becoming a politician. He was arrested in November 2021, when state media reported that he was accused of being a key figure in a network that carried out what the military called “terrorist attacks” during pro-democracy protests in Yangon, the world’s largest city. country.

    was also executed Kyaw Min Yu, a 53-year-old democracy activist, better known as Ko Jimmy, and one of the leaders of the Generation 88 Student Group, veterans of a failed 1988 popular uprising against the military government. He was accused of allegedly violating the anti-terrorism law.

    File-Kyaw Min Yu, a well-known pro-democracy activist, speaks to reporters as he arrives at Yangon airport and is greeted by his wife Nilar Thein, also an activist, in the background, and their daughter after being released from prison on January 13, 2012 in Yangon, Myanmar. Kyaw Min Yu was executed along with three other pro-democracy activists, confirmed the military junta that controls the country, on July 25, 2022. ©AP

    Before his latest incarceration in October 2021, Min Yu had spent more than a dozen years behind bars for political activism.

    Following the most recent takeover by force, the Army put him on a wanted list for social media posts allegedly inciting riots. State media said he was accused of “terrorist acts,” including mine attacks, and leading a group called Operation Moonlight to carry out urban guerrilla attacks.

    The other two executed: Hla Myo Aung and Aung Thura Zawwere found guilty of torturing and killing a woman in March 2021 whom they allegedly believed to be a military informant.

    A state newspaper reported that the four were executed “in accordance with legal procedures” for directing and organizing “violent and inhumane complicit acts of terrorist assassinations”.

    Punishing them with death is a way of ruling the public through fear

    However, since returning to full control of the country, the military junta has unleashed a campaign of brutal violence to suppress opposition.

    Human rights organizations, relatives of the detainees and thousands of people who joined the protests against the coup d’état point to the Army of imposing penalties for false crimes and with political motivations against anyone who opposes its permanence in power.

    “Punishing them with death is a way of ruling the public through fear,” said Aung Myo Min, human rights minister of the Government of National Unity, a shadow civil administration established outside Myanmar, after the seizure of power by the force.

    The executions were carried out despite calls for clemency from around the world, including experts from the United Nations and from Cambodia, which holds the rotating presidency of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

    “Barbarism” and “unfair trials”, the world condemns the executions in Myanmar

    Many in Myanmar have changed their social media profile pictures to black and red as a sign of mourning. Others posted snippets of the executed men’s speeches, including the line: “Nothing will happen if we all stand together,” part of one of Phyo Zeya Thaw’s rap songs.

    Thomas Andrews, a UN-appointed independent human rights expert who condemned the decision to go ahead with the executions when they were announced last June, called for a strong international response.

    “I am outraged and devastated by the news of the execution by the junta of patriots and defenders of human rights and decency of Myanmar (…) These people were tried, found guilty and sentenced by a military court without the right of appeal and reportedly without legal assistance, in violation of international human rights law,” the official said.

    File-The Army attacks a group of anti-coup protesters, in Monywa, Myanmar, on February 27, 2021.
    File-The Army attacks a group of anti-coup protesters, in Monywa, Myanmar, on February 27, 2021. © AFP/STR

    For her part, Elaine Pearson, acting director of Human Rights Watch in Asia, maintained that the legal proceedings against the four had been “grossly unfair and politically motivated military trials.”

    “The junta’s barbarism and callous disregard for human life are aimed at chilling the anti-coup protest movement,” Pearson added.

    Meanwhile, the US embassy on Burmese soil criticized the decision and offered its condolences to the relatives.

    “We condemn the execution by the military regime of pro-democracy leaders and elected officials for exercising their fundamental freedoms,” the diplomatic headquarters said.

    Their deaths have caused shock inside and outside Myanmar. However, these would not be the only citizens who lose their lives at the hands of the military.

    The Political Prisoners Assistance Association, a non-governmental organization that tracks murders and arrests, reported last Friday, July 22, that security forces have killed 2,114 civilians since the military takeover. And another 115 people have been sentenced to death.

    With Reuters, AP and local media

    Source: France 24

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