Myanmar Junta Executes 4 Democracy Activists, First in Nearly 50 Years

Following a trial condemned by the United Nations and rights groups, four democracy activists were executed by Myanmar’s military junta in the first judicial executions in Myanmar in nearly five decades.

The hangings of the former National League for Democracy lawmaker Phyo Zayar Thaw, the pro-democracy leader Kyaw Min Yu (Ko Jimmy), and two other activists accused of violence after Myanmar’s military takeover last year Hla Myo Aung and Aung Thura Zaw- were carried out despite public outcry and worldwide pleas for clemency for the four political detainees.

According to Human Rights Watch, the four executed activists were among 114 people sentenced to death since the junta seized power in a coup last year in closed trials that fell far short of international standards.

Since the military takeover, security forces have killed 2,114 civilians and 115 other people had been sentenced to death, according to data from the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a non-governmental organization that tracks killing and arrests.

Two UN experts – Thomas Andrews, special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, and Morris Tidball-Binz, special rapporteur on extrajudicial summary or arbitrary executions- strongly criticized the decision to hang the men along with Western governments, rights groups, and other UN experts.

Underscoring the fairness of Myanmar’s judicial system, Myanmar’s Foreign Ministry rejected criticism of the decision to proceed with the executions, pointing out that Thaw and Yu planned, directed, and organized the violent and inhuman accomplice acts of terrorist killings.

Following her detention after the Feb. 1, 2021, coup, the military court has sentenced the ousted 77-year-old leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi to a total of 11 years in prison for a series of offenses.

She faces several other allegations – including corruption and violating Myanmar’s official secrets act – which could see her imprisoned for the rest of her life.

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