Conflicts & War

Myanmar military junta defends decision to resume death penalty

Bangkok, June 7 (EFE).- The Myanmar military junta has defended its decision to resume the death penalty, saying the global criticism from the United Nations, several Western countries, and hundreds of NGOs was akin to “abetting terrorism.”

A foreign ministry statement said Monday that Myanmar “as an independent and sovereign state” had “every right to execute all powers and authorities vested by the state constitution.”

The junta recently approved the executions of four dissidents after their death sentence appeals were denied in what could mark the first judicial executions in the country in the last three decades.

The government has not specified the date of their executions.

Those on death row include former National League of Democracy lawmaker Phyo Zayar Thaw and activist Ko Jimmy, sentenced in January over their alleged involvement “in terrorist acts.”

Two other inmates facing capital punishment are Hla Myo Aung and Aung Thura Zaw, accused of having killed a woman for allegedly being a military informer.

The decision to resume the death penalty has invited condemnations from several countries like France, the United States, and Canada.

The United Nations and several global rights groups have also condemned the violent response by the military against the pro-democracy resistance.

The Myanmar foreign ministry said rejected the global outrage, saying that “every citizen…is treated equally under the law and afforded protection for fundamental human rights.”

The ministry said Phyo Zeyar Thaw and Kyaw Min Yu were sentenced to death after “they were proved to be masterminds of orchestrating full-scale terrorist attacks against innocent civilians to instil fear and disrupt peace and stability.”

The statement said the condemnations from the Western countries “construe to be abetting terrorism and purely neglecting the continued violent attacks committed by terrorist groups,” referring to the shadow government of former civilian politicians opposing the military junta.

Canada has “strongly” condemned the plans to execute pro-democracy leaders and activists.

“Canada is gravely concerned by the ongoing violations (of) human rights and humanitarian laws in Myanmar, including the right to fair trial and independence of the judiciary,” the Canadian Embassy in Yangon said Tuesday.

ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) has also criticized the decision by the military regime aimed at “to consolidate its power in the face of widespread popular resistance.”

“The junta is killing, torturing, and arbitrarily arresting Myanmar people with an impunity that owes a great deal to the failure of the international community to hold it accountable for its crimes.”

The death penalty exists in Myanmar, but the country has not carried out an execution since 1988, said Amnesty International.

Some 113 people have been sentenced to death since the military seized power in a coup on Feb.1, 2021.

The coup d’état sparked a widespread socio-political crisis in Myanmar with the emergence of armed civilian groups and an escalation in violence between government forces and various ethnic guerrilla groups.

At least 1,905 people have been killed in brutal repression by police and state security, said the nonprofit Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. EFE


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