Bangkok, Jul 26 (EFE).- The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Tuesday issued notably strong and united condemnation of fellow member Myanmar’s execution of four political prisoners.
“ASEAN is extremely troubled and deeply saddened by the execution of four opposition activists, including Phyo Zeyar Thaw, Kyaw Min Yu, Hla Myo Aung and Aung Thura Zaw, despite the personal appeal by Samdech Techo Prime Minister Hun Sen of Cambodia (…) as well as the appeals of other ASEAN Member States, for the sentences to be reconsidered. This is an issue that ASEAN takes seriously,” the statement published by the Cambodian government, which this year hosts the presidency of the bloc, said.
The statement was particularly strong as countries of the bloc have traditionally followed a policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of other member nations.
“The implementation of the death sentences, just a week before the 55th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting is highly reprehensible as it created a setback to and present [sic] a gross lack of will to support the efforts (…) in expediting progress on the implementation of the Five-Point Consensus” reached in April last year between the leaders of the bloc and the head of the military regime, the statement added.
The Myanmar military junta that came to power after the February 2021 coup announced on Monday the execution of four pro-democracy activists accused of terrorism, the country’s first use of the death penalty in more than three decades.
Phyo Zeyar Thaw was a 41-year-old a lawmaker from Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy and former hip-hop artist, while 53-year-old Kyaw Min Yu, known as Ko Jimmy, was a veteran activist.
Next week, ASEAN foreign ministers will meet in Phnom Penh, with the exclusion of Myanmar, to talk about the situation in the country, among other topics.
“We strongly and urgently call on all parties concerned to desist [from] taking actions that would only further aggravate the crisis, hinder peaceful dialogue among all parties concerned, and endanger peace, security and stability, not only in Myanmar, but the whole region,” ASEAN said.
Still, the bloc stressed its commitment to the Five-Point Consensus, including ending violence against civilians in Myanmar and starting dialogue between all parties involved in the conflict, including ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi, held in a Naypyidaw prison where she is serving a sentence on charges brought after the coup.
The statement comes after United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres also issued condemnation of the executions.
“The Secretary-General opposes the imposition of death penalty in all circumstances. These executions, the first to be conducted since 1988 in Myanmar, mark a further deterioration of the already dire human rights environment in Myanmar,” Guterres’ spokesperson said, adding that he “reiterates his call for the immediate release of all arbitrarily detained prisoners, including President Win Myint and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi.”
The military coup plunged Myanmar into a deep political, social and economic crisis, while triggering a spiral of violence with the formation of new civilian militias that have exacerbated decades of guerrilla warfare. EFE