Myanmar’s military junta has executed four prisoners including a former politician and a veteran activist. This is the country’s first use of capital punishment in decades.
Phyo Zeya Thaw, a rapper and former lawmaker from Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, and the prominent democracy activist Kyaw Min Yu, known as Jimmy Ko, were among the four that were executed. The victims had been accused of conspiring to commit terror acts. They had been sentenced to death in January and had lost their appeals in June.
International condemnation followed the sentencing, with two U.N. experts calling them a “vile attempt at instilling fear” among the people.
According to The Guardian, Aung Myo Min, the human rights minister in Myanmar’s national unity government (NUG), which was formed in exile by elected politicians, ethnic minority representatives and activists, said he was extremely saddened to hear of the executions. “What else do we need to prove how cruel the murderous Myanmar’s military is?” he said.
As reports of the executions came out, a banner was hung on a bridge in Yangon bearing a warning that the military junta should “be ready to pay for the blood debt”. Underneath the banner read: “RIP Zeyar Thaw, Jimmy, Hla Myo Aung and Aung Thura.”
According to The Hindu, last month military spokesman Zaw Min Tun defended the death penalty, saying it was used in many countries.
“At least 50 innocent civilians, excluding security forces, died because of them,” he told a televised news conference. “How can you say this is not justice?” he asked. “Required actions are needed to be done in the required moments.”
The military junta in Myanmar came to power in 2021 after ousting a democratically elected government led by Aung Sang Suu Kyi. The junta has been accused of carrying out a bloody and brutal campaign aimed at supressing opposition voices.