Myanmar’s junta executes four anti-coup activists 

The executions have invoked widespread condemnation with rights groups claiming that these arbitrary executions in close-door trials highlight the escalating atrocities under junta rule in Myanmar 

July 26, 2022 by Peoples Dispatch
Ko Jimmy (L) and Phyo Zaya Thaw. (Photo: CNN)

Several human rights organizations including the UNHRC, HRW, Amnesty International, and Fortify Rights have condemned the execution of four anti-coup activists by the junta government in Myanmar on July 25. The activists were executed in close-door trials in Yangon for supporting the militias against junta rule.

Two of those executed were longtime activists, 53-year-old Ko Jimmy (Kyaw Min Yu) and 41-year-old Phyo Zeyar Thaw. Jimmy was a writer and activist from the 88 Generation Students Group while Thaw was a hip-hop star and a member of the National League for Democracy.  The other two, Hla Myo Aung and Aung Thura Zaw, were sentenced to death under the counter-terrorism law.

Myanmar Now quoted a prison insider saying that four prisoners were executed inside the prison grounds and that their families were not allowed to carry out funerals, instead the bodies were cremated in Yangon’s Htein Pin cemetery.

Junta spokesperson Zaw Min Tun claimed in interviews that activists Jimmy and Thaw were “involved in terrorist acts such as explosion attacks and killing civilians as informants.”

Meanwhile, activists and international rights organizations have termed the execution “arbitrary deprivation of rights” that show the dire rights situation in the country. The military took control in Myanmar in a coup in February 2021. 

According to Tom Andrews, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Myanmar, the executions are outrageous and should be an indication of a turning point for the international community: “I am outraged and devastated at the news of the junta’s execution of Myanmar patriots and champions of human rights and democracy. My heart goes out to their families, friends and loved ones and indeed all the people in Myanmar who are victims of the junta’s escalating atrocities,” he said.

“These death sentences, handed down by the illegitimate court of the illegitimate junta, are a vile attempt at instilling fear among the people of Myanmar,” Andrews and another UN special rapporteur Morris Tidball-Binz stated.

Amnesty’s regional head said in a statement that the executions show Myanmar’s poor human rights record. As per the rights group, at least 100 individuals are on death row in Myanmar after being secretly convicted in similar proceedings.

According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), which has been documenting the rights violations committed by the junta since taking over power, the military tribunal has sentenced at least 117 individuals to death as of July 22. 

As per some estimates, the total number of people killed under military rule is over 2,114 and more than 14,847 people have been arrested since last year’s military coup. Among the dead are 40 teachers who were killed by the junta forces after they participated in the Civil Disobedience Movement against junta rule between February 2021 to May 2022. 

On July 22, a BBC investigation showed that six military soldiers who had defected from the army admitted to have been part of various brutal acts including killing of unarmed civilian.