Myanmar: Executions Go Ahead of Four Pro-Democracy Activists

Myanmar’s military has executed four pro-democracy activists in what was the first use of capital punishment in over 30 years.

The group included veteran activist Ko Jimmy and former hip-hop star turned lawmaker Phyo Zeya Thaw. The other two were Hla Myo Aung and Aung Thura Zaw, both accused of killing a junta informer.

All were sentenced to death earlier this year after being accused of committing what the Myanmar government described as “brutal and inhumane terror acts” during closed-door trials highly criticized by human rights groups.

According to the state news outlet Global News Light of Myanmar, the four activists were sentenced to death because they “gave directives, made arrangements and committed conspiracies for brutal and inhumane terror acts.”

The four men were reportedly charged under anti-terrorism laws, the outlet added. However, details about the executions were not disclosed.

The deceased’s families gathered at Insein prison to demand information about their loved ones, as they were not properly informed about the executions.

The move was seen as an attempt to strike fear into a resistance movement that has continued to fight the Burmese junta after the army launched a coup to seize power in February last year.

Pro-democracy leader ousted during the coup Aung San Suu Kyi, who remains in detention after being charged with a raft of criminal offenses, did not comment but was very sad after hearing the news, a source close to her said.

News of the executions was met with criticism from human rights organizations and foreign officials.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned the killings, saying: “Such reprehensible acts of violence and repression cannot be tolerated. We remain committed to the people of Burma and their efforts to restore Burma’s path to democracy.”

The executions also appear to defy Western leaders, the United Nations, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, who have all repeatedly called on Myanmar’s junta to release political prisoners and stop the violence that has hit the nation since the coup.

Burmese generals have rejected the calls, saying foreign officials are “reckless and interfering.”

However, the United Nations Security Council has been unable to take severe action against the Burmese army due to China and Russia’s veto. Both countries are allies of Myanmar.