Myanmar Junta Executes Four Activists, Including Ex-MP, in First Capital Punishment in Decades
Myanmar's political parties have accused the military tribunals of flagrantly violating the country's laws and engaging in unfair practices while hearing civilian cases since the February 2021 coup. The military tribunals have sentenced hundreds of activists to death since the coup, but the executions were pending.
Four rights activists, including former lawmaker Phyo Zeya Thaw of Aung San Suu Kyi's party, were executed by Myanmar's junta, according to the state-run press service Global New Light of Myanmar, making it the first capital punishment of "political prisoners" since 1976.
Phyo Zeya Thaw, a former National League for Democracy legislator, and prominent democracy activist Kyaw Min Yu, also known as Jimmy, were convicted by the military tribunal of conspiring to engage in "brutal and inhumane terror acts," taking several "innocent lives" after February 2021.
One such case was the killing of five police officers in a shooting attack on a passenger train in Yangon in August 2021.
The two other people, Hla Myo Aung and Aung Thura Zaw, were charged with killing a woman they accused of being an informant for the military Junta in Yangon in March 2021.
"Relevant military tribunals charged them for their cases under relevant sections of the Counter-terrorism Law and Penal Code, and handed down the death sentence to each of those four culprits," the statement read.
Junta spokesman Zaw Min Tun said that everything is stated in the newspaper and is "according to the law and no need to explain."
Trials were concluded in January this year against all those charged with "helping militia against the Junta," which snatched power from the democratic government in a coup in February 2021.
Myanmar Now reported that the prison officials refused to give back the dead bodies to the family, saying they are not required by law to do so.
The Myanmar military justified the coup by alleging massive voter fraud during the national elections in 2020. Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy had secured a resounding majority for the second consecutive term in 2020.
Myanmar's National Unity government has urged the UN, ASEAN, the EU Council, and international community to "punish the murderous Myanmar military junta for their cruelty and killings."
"Extremely saddened to read the news of the execution of four activists including Jimmy & former MP Phyo Zayar Thaw. What else do we need to prove how cruel the murderous Myanmar military is?" Aung Myo Min, Human Rights Minister of the National Unity Government, said.
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, Tom Andrews, said he is "outraged and devastated" by the executions.
"The UN Member States must honor their lives by making this depraved act a turning point for the world's response to this crisis," he added.
The execution occurred days after the International Court of Justice ruled against the Myanmar government, allowing a full bench trial on the genocide case involving the southeast Asian country's Rohingya minority.
The lawsuit was filed by the Gambia, a country not directly affected by the Rohingya crisis, unlike Bangladesh and India.
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