The ruling military junta in Myanmar is set to execute a former lawmaker from Aung San Suu Kyi’s party as well as a prominent democracy activist charged with terrorism, in the country’s first judicial execution since 1990.
A total of four people, including former MP Phyo Zeya Thaw and democracy activist Ko Jimmy, have been sentenced to death and will be hanged according to prison procedure.
As part of its crackdown on dissent following its takeover of power last year, Myanmar’s military junta has executed dozens of anti-coup activists, but no executions have been carried out in decades.
In January, Phyo Zeya Thaw, a former lawmaker from Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy was arrested in November. He was sentenced to death for anti-terrorist offenses.
A Myanmar military tribunal also sentenced democracy activist Kyaw Min Yu (better known as Jimmy) to death by hanging.
Myanmar Junta Informant Killed
The Military court in Myanmar has rejected their request for appeal and there is no further step after that,” a lawyer for the defendants said.
According to the lawyer, two other men, who were sentenced to death for allegedly killing a woman believed to be an informer for the junta in Yangon, will also be executed.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has condemned the junta’s decision as “a blatant violation of the right to life, liberty, and security of person”.
Guterres said the two pro-democracy activists should be released and all charges against them should be dropped.
The Secretary-General said that the death penalty cannot be reconciled with full respect for the right to life. In order to enhance human dignity and advance human rights, abolition is necessary and desirable.
Earlier this week, a spokesperson for Amnesty International called on the Myanmar junta to “immediately drop such plans” while the international community stepped up its efforts to intervene.
Worst human rights abuser
Phil Robertson, deputy director at Human Rights Watch, said that the junta’s move to execute two prominent political figures would fuel popular anti-military resistance.
In addition, such a move would cement the junta’s reputation as the worst human rights abuser in Asia.
Phyo Zeya Thaw is accused of helping to orchestrate several attacks on regime forces, including a gun attack on a Yangon commuter train in August that killed five policemen.
As a hip-hop pioneer whose subversive rhymes ruffled the previous junta, he was imprisoned in 2008 for membership in an illegal group and possessing foreign currency.
Prison sentence of more than 150 years
In 2015, he was elected to parliament representing Aung San Suu Kyi’s NLD, which ushered in a transition to civilian rule.
The military cited voter fraud during elections in 2020 – which the NLD won by a landslide – as justification for its coup on February 1, 2018.
Suu Kyi has been detained ever since and faces a slew of charges in a junta court that could see her face a prison sentence of more than 150 years.
Kyaw Min Yu, who rose to fame during Myanmar’s 1988 student uprising against the country’s previous military regime, was arrested in an overnight raid in October.
Last year, the Myanmar military junta issued an arrest warrant for him for inciting unrest through social media posts.