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Myanmar: Military junta executes four dissidents

For the first time since 1990, generals in Myanmar have executed four people who had fought for democracy in the country for decades.

According to human rights activists, their families only found out about the executions after they had been carried out.

Despite international protests, the junta in Myanmar has carried out death sentences for the first time in decades. Four dissidents convicted in January were executed, including former MP and hip-hop artist Phyo Zeya Thaw, 41, and prominent democracy activist Kyaw Min Yu, 53, also known as Jimmy. This was reported by the state-run newspaper “Global New Light of Myanmar“.

They were found guilty of helping to carry out “inhuman acts of terrorism”.

The activist Phyo Zeya Thaw had been fighting for more democratic rights since 1988 and had been in prison for more than 20 years in the past. Having first made a name for himself as a hip-hop singer, he later went into politics and became a close ally of Suu Kyi.

Human Rights Watch: “Shocking speed”

These are the first death sentences to be carried out in the Southeast Asian crisis-ridden state since 1990. “The shocking speed with which the death sentences were carried out and the callousness with which they were carried out are made worse by the fact that the families – just like all of us – only found out about the death of their relatives afterwards and only through the media,” said Manny Maung of the human rights organization Human Rights Watch of the dpa news agency. He called on the international community to take urgent action against the military government.

Human Rights Watch’s Asia director, Elaine Pearson, called it “an act of the utmost cruelty.” With this barbarism, the junta aims to silence the anti-coup protest movement. European Union member states, the United States and other governments should immediately let the junta know “that there are consequences for the atrocities it has committed.”

UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Myanmar, Tom Andrews, tweeted that he was “shocked” by the news: “UN member states must honor their lives by making this heinous act a turning point in the world’s response to this crisis make.”

As early as June, after those convicted lost their appeals, UN experts warned: “These death sentences, handed down by an illegitimate court of an illegitimate junta, are a heinous attempt to scare the people of Myanmar.” A source close to the families told the dpa that the men were hanged on Sunday morning.

Phyo Zeya Thaw and Kyaw Min Yu were allowed to see their families again via zoom a few days ago, local media and sources close to the families said. “We hoped the sentences would not be carried out, it’s just terrible,” said a woman close to Kyaw Min Yu’s family. “The families thought they were safe for a while.”

Country descends into chaos and violence

The generals staged a coup in February 2021 and ousted the de facto Prime Minister Aung San Suu Kyi (77). Since then, the former Burma has descended into chaos and violence.

Numerous proceedings are pending against the Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi for alleged crimes. A month ago she was transferred from house arrest to prison.

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