4 pro-democracy activists executed in Myanmar

Executions carried out over weekend, military regime denied bodies to their families, says local daily.

4 pro-democracy activists executed in Myanmar

The military junta in Myanmar executed four people, including top political activists, a spokesperson for the regime said on Monday.

Executions were carried out over the weekend, and the military regime denied bodies to their families, according to a local news website, adding that Kyaw Min Yu, better known as Jimmy, former lawmaker Phyo Zayar Thaw, Hla Myo Aung, and Aung Thura Zaw were arrested last year.

According to Myanmar's Junta mouthpiece Global New Light, the four were charged of "brutal murdering cases" on March 14, 2021.

Kyaw Min Yu, 53, was a veteran of the 1988 pro-democracy uprising in the Buddhist-majority nation, while Phyo Zeya Thaw, a 41-year-old ally of ousted Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi and National League for Democracy lawmaker, lost their appeals against the sentences in June, the website reported.

It is for the first time since the 1980s that Myanmar has carried out executions.

The junta accused the four of “giving directives, made arrangements, and committed conspiracies for brutal and inhumane terror acts such as murdering many innocent people,” the report claimed.

Following their arrest, the report said: “Relevant military tribunals charged them for their cases under relevant sections of the counter-terrorism law and the penal code and handed down the death sentence each to those four culprits.”

“The punishment has been conducted under the prison’s procedures,” it added.

According to the Myanmar Now news website, the four slain prisoners were only allowed to meet their families at the Insein Prison in Yangon on Friday through a video link.

The families were allowed to visit the prison, but the meeting was held online, the news outlet reported, adding that Junta officials told the families they “should not return to the prison to bring food or medicines for the prisoners.”

“The next morning, all four prisoners were reportedly executed on the prison’s grounds,” the report said, adding that the bodies were cremated at Yangon’s Htein Pin cemetery later the same day.

Soon after learning of the executions, the lawyers for Jimmy and Thaw's families sought information from prison authorities, which was allegedly denied, the online news outlet said.

“Prison officials refused to say when the executions were carried out. When the families asked if they could collect the bodies, the officials said they were not required under the law to release them,” the report claimed, citing sources close to the family.

“They (families) won’t be holding funerals for them,” the report said, adding the families refuse to accept that “their loved ones had been killed by the regime.”

“This is completely unacceptable.”

Buddhist-majority Myanmar’s history is replete with junta regimes.

The latest coup, mounted last year in February, has been met with mass civil unrest. The military has used force in its attempts to quell dissent and killed more than 2,000 people, according to a local monitor Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

The UN estimates that more than 700,000 people were internally displaced in the country as of June 1, including more than 250,000 children.

Around 117 people have been sentenced to death by the junta since last year’s military coup, including 41 who were sentenced in absentia.

Hüseyin Demir