Myanmar Junta Executes Four Political Prisoners

The protesters hold Aung San Suu Kyi posters during opposition rally in Yangon in May, 2021.
The protesters hold Aung San Suu Kyi posters during opposition rally in Yangon in May, 2021. (AFP)

Several Western countries and and human rights organizations condemned their death sentences.

Myanmar’s military junta has executed four pro-democracy activists, carrying out its first death sentences in more than three decades and defying international appeals for restraint. The deaths of the activists, including two of the most prominent leaders of the resistance, sent shock waves through the country Monday and was seen as the junta’s latest attempt to instill terror since violently seizing power last year.

It’s unbelievable, said Moe Zaw Oo, deputy foreign minister for the National Unity Government — a shadow administration that has been operating in exile since the coup. These were political prisoners. They killed them without any of the right procedures, without any due process, he added.

Kyaw Min Yu, 51, also known as Ko Jimmy, rose to prominence in student uprisings in 1988 and had spent years in and out of prison for his activism. Phyo Zeya Thaw, 41, was a hip-hop artist turned member of parliament who was widely admired among Myanmar’s youths. They were convicted on terrorism charges and sentenced to death in closed-door trials last fall.

Prisoners Probably Hanged On Sunday

On Friday, prison officials told relatives of the four men that they would be able to speak to them over Zoom, marking the first such contact in months. Prison officials did not say at the time whether or when the men would be executed. Then on Monday morning, state-run news outlets announced that the death sentences of Ko Jimmy and Phyo Zeya Thaw “had been conducted.” Two other men, Hla Myo Aung and Aung Thura Zaw, also were executed after being convicted of killing a military informant, regime's propaganda said.

The four men were probably hanged, which is the procedure at Yangon’s notorious Insein prison, where they were held. Family members traveled to Insein on Monday asking to see their bodies but were denied by prison officials, advocates said.

The junta canceled a regularly scheduled news conference on Monday, saying instead that it would address the media on Tuesday.


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