Crime & Justice

UN envoy condemns executions of Myanmar democracy activists

(Update 1: changes head, adds US rapporteur’s reaction)

Bangkok, Jul 25 (EFE).- A United Nations special rapporteur on Monday condemned the Myanmar military junta’s executions of four prisoners, including an opposition politician and a respected pro-democracy activist.

“These individuals were tried, convicted and sentenced by a military tribunal without the right of appeal and reportedly without legal counsel, in violation of international human rights law,” Tom Andrews, special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, said in a statement.

Andrews said he was “devastated” by the killings and urged the international community to take “strong action” against the military regime for its “widespread and systematic murders of protesters, indiscriminate attacks against entire villages, and now the execution of opposition leaders.”

Earlier Monday, the state Myanmar News Agency reported the executions of four prisoners in the country’s first use of the death penalty in more than three decades, without specifying when they took place or how, although executions have previously been by hanging.

Those killed include 41-year-old Phyo Zeyar Thaw, a lawmaker from Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy and former hip-hop artist, and activist Kyaw Min Yu, 53 years old and known as Jimmy, who were convicted in January on terrorism charges.

The other two inmates were Hla Myo Aung and Aung Thura Zaw, accused of having killed a woman believed to be an informer for the military.

The junta’s spokesperson did not respond on Monday morning to EFE’s queries about the executions.

The military, which seized control of the country on Feb. 1, 2021 in a coup, announced in early June that it would resume the use of the death penalty.

The decision was condemned by many countries including France, the United States and Canada as well as the United Nations, and hundreds of local and international non-governmental organizations.

The last execution to be carried out in Myanmar was in 1988, under the defunct military junta that ruled the country between 1962 and 2011, according to Amnesty International.

Since the military coup, 113 people have been sentenced to death in Myanmar, which has not banned capital punishment, but where death sentences were commuted to life imprisonment after the traditional pardons that the authorities grant on special dates.

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.

At least 2,114 people have died as a result of violent repression by security forces, according to data collected by the nonprofit Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, which does not count those killed during armed clashes or the deaths of those linked to the military regime. EFE


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