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On the executed democracy activists in Myanmar by the military junta

Myanmar's ruling military recently executed four democracy activists accused of helping carry out "terror acts". Rationalist International condemns Myanmar's first executions in decades. They were sentenced to death in a secretive trial in January and April. The activists were accused of helping insurgents to fight the army that seized power in a coup on February 1 last year and unleashed a bloody crackdown that has resulted in multiple rights cases of abuse.

Executed activist Phyo Zeya Thaw with former President Aung San Suu Kyi.

Among those executed were democracy activist Kyaw Min Yu, better known as Ko Jimmy, and former National League for Democracy lawmaker Phyo Zeya Thaw, along with Hla Myo Aung and Aung Thura Zaw. The death of these activists mark the first judicial executions in the country in decades.

According to Human Rights Watch, 114 people have been sentenced to death in Myanmar since the military seized power in a coup in February 2021.

Who all were executed?

Phyo Zeya Thaw was a former lawmaker from ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party. Also known as Maung Kyaw, he was convicted in January by a closed military court of offenses involving possession of explosives, bombings, and financing terrorism.

Democracy activist Kyaw Min Yu (left), better known as "Jimmy," and former lawmaker Phyo Zeya Thaw.

Also executed was democracy activist Kyaw Min Yu, better known as Ko Jimmy, for violating the counterterrorism law. He was one of the leaders of the 88 Generation Students Group, veterans of a failed 1988 popular uprising against military rule.

The other two, Hla Myo Aung and Aung Thura Zaw, were convicted of torturing and killing a woman in March 2021 who they allegedly believed was a military informer.

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said, “These executions – the first in Myanmar in decades - are cruel violations of the rights to life, liberty and security of a person, and fair trial guarantees. For the military to widen its killing will only deepen its entanglement in the crisis it has itself created.” Ms. Bachelet has called for the immediate release of all political prisoners and others arbitrarily detained, and urged the country to reinstate its de-facto moratorium on the use of the death penalty.


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