On Monday shocking news came from Myanmar that four pro democracy activists were given capital punishment, the news of the execution came from the nation in siege of military rule. The last executions were given in the 80’s when the nation was in military rule. This news of execution came after more than 3 decades.
Activists were accused of aiding “terror act”, they have been trailed by secret military court, behind the closed doors in January and April. They were accused of helping a civilian resistance movement that had fought the military since last year’s coup.
Among the executed person are democracy campaigner kyaw min yu known as Jimmy also a former lawmaker, a hip hop artist Phyo Zeya Thaw, an ally of ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
The two others executed were Hla Myo Aung and Aung Thura Zaw. All of them have been held at the Insein prison on the outskirts of Yangon, the largest city of myanmar.
National unity government which is leading efforts to condemn the military rule by Junta said, “The global community must punish their cruelty”- spokesperson for the NUG president office.
Since the military coup took place on 1st Feb 2021 last year, there have been serious crack downs on nationwide protests. Before democratic transitions were made in 2011, prior to that from 1962 the military ruled the country and was almost in isolation for decades, for the past one year it has almost been the same condition.
This was not the first case of brutal death punishment given to activists, descendents of military rule since the coup took place, before this there have been some 117 death sentences have taken place given by military court as per the ‘Assistance association for political prisoners’ (AAPP) an organisation which keeps track on arrests, killings and courts verdict in Myanmar.
Serious allegations are mounting over the act done by the military, family members of the executed men were denied to retrieve their loved ones bodies after being executed, as put forward by them to the media. State media also only made statement that “the punishment has been conducted”, but did not say when, or by what method.
Knowing the accused
Ko Jimmy, 53, was a veteran of the 88 Generation Students Group – a Burmese pro-democracy movement known for their activism against the country’s military junta in the 1988 student uprisings.
Ko Jimmy and his wife mobilised activists and protesters from the 1988 demonstrations to participate. He served multiple stints in prison for his activism, before being released in 2012.
He was arrested in October last year after being accused of hiding weapons and ammunition at an apartment in Yangon and being an “adviser” to the National Unity Government.
Phyo Zeya Thaw, 41, was a former hip-hop star turned NLD lawmaker.His band Acid released Myanmar’s first ever hip-hop album, with his lyrics carrying veiled attacks on the military. He gradually became a close ally of pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, and often accompanied her on her international meetings with world leaders.He was arrested in November for alleged anti-terror offences.
Less is known about the two other activists – Hla Myo Aung and Aung Thura Zaw. They were sentenced to death for killing a woman who was an alleged informer for the junta.
The announcement of the execution drew harsh condemnation from the leaders, organisations around the world.
United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet called the executions a “cruel and regressive step.”
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres strongly condemned the executions and called again for the release of all arbitrarily detained prisoners, including Suu Kyi.
In a joint statement, the European Union, Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea, Britain and the United States described the executions as “reprehensible acts of violence that further exemplify the regime’s disregard for human rights and the rule of law.”
Human Rights Watch acting Asia director Elaine Pearson said it was “an act of utter cruelty” that “aims to chill the anti-coup protest movement.”
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), last month sent a letter of appeal to junta chief Min Aung Hlaing not to carry out the executions, relaying deep concern among Myanmar’s neighbours.
The execution instigated a rebuke in US also, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned the executions in Myanmar, which is also known as Burma, “Such reprehensible acts of violence and repression cannot be tolerated. We remain committed to the people of Burma and their efforts to restore Burma’s path to democracy,” he tweeted.
The White House also condemned the “heinous execution of pro-democracy activists and elected leaders.” U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Washington was considering further measures in response to the junta, adding that “all options” were on the table, when asked specifically on potential sanctions on the country’s gas sector, as reported by reuters.
Bob Menendez, chairman of the foreign relations committee, U.S senate, went further saying that President Joe Biden should consider imposing sanctions on Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise, among others.