Myanmar’s military junta has executed two prominent pro-democracy activists and two other men for terrorism, state media reported Monday, after a trial condemned by the UN and human rights groups.
Veteran democracy activist Kyaw Min Yu, better known as Ko Jimmy, and former National League for Democracy legislator Phyo Zayar Thaw were executed along with Hla Myo Aung and Aung Thura Zaw, the Global New Light of Myanmar reported, without specifying a date. to give.
Their deaths mark the country’s first judicial executions in decades, and human rights organizations fear more will follow. According to Human Rights Watch, 114 people have been sentenced to death in Myanmar since the military seized power in a coup d’état in February 2021.
Ko Jimmy and Phyo Zayar Thaw were accused by the military of being “involved in terrorist acts such as explosion attacks, killing civilians as informants”, junta spokesman Zaw Min Tun previously told DailyExpertNews. They were sentenced to death in January 2022 and last month Zaw Min Tun confirmed that their appeal had been rejected.
Civilian cases have been tried in military courts with proceedings closed to the public since the military seized power last year, ousted the elected government and overturned nearly a decade of tentative democratic reforms.
Rights groups say these secret military tribunals deny the chance for a fair trial and are designed for quick – and almost certain – convictions regardless of the evidence.
The UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar, Tom Andrews, said in a: pronunciation On Monday, he was “outraged and devastated” by the executions.
“My heart goes out to their families, friends and loved ones and indeed all the people of Myanmar who are victims of the escalating atrocities of the junta,” he said. “These individuals were tried, convicted and convicted by a military tribunal without the right of appeal and allegedly without legal advice, in violation of international human rights law.”
Manny Maung, Myanmar researcher at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement in June: “The fundamental rights disregard of Myanmar’s military courts was evident in the farcical trials and death sentences of Phyo Zayar Thaw and Ko Jimmy.”
“These secretive tribunals with their lightning-fast convictions are designed to cool any dissent against the military junta,” the statement said.
A spokesman for the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, previously said the UN was “deeply disturbed” by the decision to execute the men, calling it a “blatant violation of the right to life, liberty and security.” of the person”, referring to an article in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Amnesty International said it has registered an “alarming” increase in the number of death sentences in the country since the takeover, which it said was intended to “instill fear”.
“The death sentence has become one of many horrific ways in which Myanmar’s military is trying to instill fear among those who oppose its rule and would contribute to grave human rights violations, including deadly violence directed against peaceful protesters and other civilians,” he said. the organisation. said on Twitter in June.
A 2021 Amnesty report states that the last known judicial execution in Myanmar was in 1988. Numerous death sentences have been handed down in the country since then, but they have mostly been “changed through mass pardons,” Amnesty said.
DailyExpertNews has not been able to independently verify when the last state execution took place in Myanmar.
Phyo Zayar Thaw, 41, was formerly a lawmaker in Myanmar’s lower house for the then-ruling National League for Democracy – the party of deposed state adviser Aung San Suu Kyi.
Before becoming a politician, Phyo Zayar Thaw was a popular hip-hop artist and a founding member of the pro-democracy youth organization Generation Wave. He was imprisoned by the previous military regime in 2008 for his activism.
In November 2021, Phyo Zayar Thaw was arrested during a raid on an apartment complex in Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon. He was accused of planning attacks on junta targets and was charged under the Counter-Terrorism Act and the Protection of Public Property Act, according to local media.
Ko Jimmy became a prominent student activist in Myanmar during the massive popular uprising against the then military regime in 1988. He spent about 15 years behind bars for his activism and involvement in the 8888 demonstrations and the 2007 Saffron Revolution.
According to local media, Ko Jimmy was arrested in October 2021, accused of organizing guerrilla attacks on junta targets and charged with treason and terrorist offences. He was also wanted by the regime for allegedly inciting unrest over social media posts criticizing the coup.
Since taking power, the military junta led by Min Aung Hlaing has begun a bloody crackdown on any opposition to its rule. According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, nearly 15,000 people have been arrested and more than 2,000 killed by military forces during that time.
The military has been accused of crimes against humanity and war crimes by the United States, the UN and other international agencies as it seeks to gain control over the people, who continue to wage a massive campaign of resistance.