Demonstrators take part in a candlelight vigil during a rally against the military control of Myanmar outside Queensland Parliament in Brisbane, Australia. Alamy Stock Photo

Myanmar military junta executes four political prisoners

The executions were carried out despite international calls for clemency.

LAST UPDATE | Jul 25th 2022, 9:54 PM

MYANMAR’s GOVERNMENT SAID it has carried out its first executions in nearly 50 years, hanging a former National League for Democracy (NLD) legislator, a democracy activist and two men accused of violence after the country’s takeover by the military last year.

The executions, detailed in the state-run Mirror Daily newspaper, were carried out despite worldwide pleas for clemency for the four political prisoners.

The four were executed “in accordance with legal procedures” for directing and organising “violent and inhuman accomplice acts of terrorist killings”, the newspaper reported. It did not say when the executions were carried out.

Calls for clemency includes pleas from United Nations experts and Cambodia, which holds the rotating chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).

The military government issued a brief statement confirming the report, while the prison where the men had been held and the prison department refused to comment.

The Department of Foreign Affairs have issued a statement condemning the executions.

“These cruel and inhumane killings are renewed evidence of the ongoing brutality of the Tatamdaw. Ireland extends its heartfelt condolences to the families of Phyo Zeya Thaw, Kyaw MinYu (Ko Jimmy), Aung Thura Zaw, and Hla Myo Aung.”

“Ireland remains strongly opposed to the use of the death penalty in all cases and in all circumstances. It constitutes cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and is contrary to the right to life.”  

Aung Myo Min, human rights minister for the National Unity Government, a shadow civilian administration established outside Myanmar after the military seized power in February 2021, rejected the allegations that the men were involved in violence.

“Punishing them with death is a way to rule the public through fear,” he told The Associated Press.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken called the executions reprehensible and showing a “complete disregard for human rights and the rule of law”.

“The regime’s sham trials and these executions are blatant attempts to extinguish democracy; these actions will never suppress the spirit of the brave people of Burma,” Blinken said, using Myanmar’s former name.

Phyo Zeya Thaw was a former legislator from ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, also known as Maung Kyaw, who was convicted in January by a closed military court of offences involving explosives, bombings and financing terrorism.

His wife, Thazin Nyunt Aung, told the AP she had not been informed his execution had been carried out. “I am still trying to confirm it myself,” she said.

The 41-year-old had been arrested last November based on information from people detained for shooting security personnel, state media said at the time.

He was also accused of being a key figure in a network that carried out what the military described as terrorist attacks in Yangon, the country’s biggest city.

Phyo Zeya Thaw had been a hip-hop musician before becoming a member of the Generation Wave political movement formed in 2007.

He was jailed in 2008 under a previous military government after being accused of illegal association and possession of foreign currency.

Press Association
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