Rights groups urge Myanmar to commute sentences of all death row prisoners

Bangkok, Dec 6 (EFE).- Human Rights Watch Tuesday urged the Myanmar military junta to commute the sentences of all death row inmates, including seven university students.

“The junta should impose a moratorium on the death penalty with the aim of abolishing capital punishment in the country,” the global rights organization said in a joint statement with a Myanmar monitoring group, Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP).

The sentencing by military-run courts followed the executions of four political prisoners in July 2022, which sparked global condemnations.

“All these convictions followed grossly unjust closed-door trials that fell far short of international fair trial standards,” the statement said.

Manny Maung, a Myanmar researcher at HRW, said the junta should “immediately commute the sentences of all those facing the death penalty, a cruel punishment that most of the world rejects.”

“For those governments that have hesitated to impose targeted sanctions against the junta for its long list of rights violations, the new death sentences should be a clear signal to take action now.”

On Nov.30, a closed military court in Yangon handed down the death sentences for the seven students — all members of the Dagon University Students’ Union.

The tribunal convicted the students for involvement in a shooting that killed a former military officer in Yangon in April.

Police arrested all seven in April, shortly after the alleged shooting.

A military court also sentenced three others in a case related to a separate incident.

They received death sentences for allegedly shooting and killing a ward administrator in north Yangon on May 24, 2022.

The statement by the non-profit groups alleged that Myanmar’s secretive military tribunals had “long shown complete disregard for basic human rights protections and failed to uphold international due process and fair trial standards.”

The tribunals have sentenced 138 people to death since the February 2021 military coup, including 41 in absentia.

The rights groups urged the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and concerned governments to press the junta to immediately commute all death sentences and release all those wrongfully imprisoned.

“The Myanmar junta’s threats are aligned with military courts that have continually failed to protect any basic principles of fair trial process or to demonstrate independence and impartiality,” said Ko Bo Gyi, co-founder of the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

“Swift condemnation and concerted pressure and unified, targeted sanctions is what is necessary to end the junta’s violations.” EFE


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