Parliamentarians from across Southeast Asia condemned what they described as the “barbaric” execution of four political prisoners at the hands of the military junta in Myanmar, describing it as “an act of judicial barbarism.”
The four executed men, all charged under anti-terrorism laws, are Phyo Zeya Thaw, former lawmaker for the National League for Democracy (NLD); the prominent activist Kyaw Min Yu, widely known as ‘Ko Jimmy;’ Aung Thura Zaw; and Hla Myo Aung.
State-run New Light of Myanmar said “the punishment has been carried out under the prison’s procedures,” without elaborating.
Former student leader Ko Jimmy, whose real name is Kyaw Min Yu, was convicted on terrorism charges for activities against the military regime that has ruled the country since a coup last year, according to state media.
The first judicial executions in Myanmar since 1988 came despite a direct appeal on June 11 by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen to junta leader Sen. Gen. Min Aung Hlaing. Hun Sen acted in his role as chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), of which Myanmar is a member.
The death sentences are the first known judicial executions in Myanmar since 1988, according to Amnesty International.
“These executions are nothing but appalling acts of evil committed by a brutal junta that has shown no qualms about waging a war against the Myanmar population in order to cement its power,” said said Eva Sundari, former member of the House of Representatives in Indonesia and Board Member of the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR).
Sundari said the global community “should take these cold-blooded assassinations as yet another wake up call on the true nature of the regime of terror that the Myanmar military is attempting to impose in the country.”
According to the Myanmar group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, as of July 22, there were 76 prisoners in Myanmar sentenced to death, including two children, while 41 people have been given the death penalty in absentia.
Since the coup on Feb. 1, 2021, at least 2,114 people have been killed by the self-styled State Administration Council led by General Min Aung Hlaing in its campaign to suppress the widespread opposition to military rule.
“These death sentences should be viewed as an attempt by the Myanmar military to provide a veneer of legality to political assassination,” read an APHR statement.
“It is clear that these executions are made to strike fear among representatives of the democratic forces and political activists who oppose the junta,” said Tom Villarin, former Philippine legislator and APHR Board Member.
“We believe that all those accused by the military junta are tried in secret, unfair and biased trials with no legal safeguards,” said Villarin.
Charles Santiago, Member of Parliament from Malaysia, and APHR chairperson, said that not even the previous military regime, which ruled the country between 1988 and 2011, dared to carry out the death penalty against political prisoners.
“This means yet another increase in the junta’s brutality, which comes from a sense of impunity largely fostered by the failure of the global community to do anything effective to prevent it from committing further atrocities,” said Santiago. – with a report from Radio Free Asia