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Myanmar to execute two including ex-MP from Suu Kyi's party

  • Sun Online Desk
  • 4th June, 2022 11:10:07 AM
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Myanmar's military government says appeals by two prominent democracy activists against their death sentences have been rejected, paving the way for the country's first executions in decades, reports ABC.

The government has received widespread condemnation abroad for ousting an elected government in a coup more than a year ago, and for the brutal crackdown that it has since unleashed on critics, opposition members and activists.

Kyaw Min Yu, a veteran democracy activist, and Phyo Zayar Thaw, an MP for the former ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) party, were sentenced to death by a military tribunal in January on charges of treason and terrorism, according to a junta statement at the time.

The United Nations said it was "deeply troubled" by Friday's announcement, which UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric described as a blatant human rights violation.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for charges to be dropped "against those arrested on charges related to the exercise of their fundamental freedoms and rights and for the immediate release of all political prisoners in Myanmar," Mr Dujarric said.

It was unclear whether Kyaw Min Yu and Phyo Zayar Thaw had denied the charges against them. The junta statement did not mention their pleas.

Their appeals against the sentences were rejected, a junta spokesperson said, though it was unclear by whom. The activists' representatives could not be reached for comment.

"Previously, the convicts sentenced to death could appeal and if no decision was made, then their death sentences would not be implemented," junta spokesperson Zaw Min Tun told BBC Burmese.

"At this time, that appeal was rejected so the death sentences are going to be implemented," he said.

He did not say when the executions would take place.

Judges in Myanmar sentence offenders to death for serious crimes including murder, but no one has been executed in decades.

Death sentences spike under junta

The last judicial execution to be carried out in Myanmar is generally believed to have been of another political offender, student leader Salai Tin Maung Oo, in 1976 under a previous military government led by dictator Ne Win.

In 2014, the sentences of prisoners on death row were commuted to life imprisonment, but several dozen convicts received death sentences between then and last year's coup.

The military took power after complaining of fraud in a November 2020 general election won by Aung San Suu Kyi's NLD.

Election monitoring groups found no evidence of mass fraud.

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, which tracks arrests and state-conducted killings, says Myanmar courts have handed down death sentences to 114 political offenders, including two children, since the army seized power from Ms Suu Kyi's elected government in February last year.

Last year's army takeover triggered nationwide popular protests, which turned into a low-level insurgency after nonviolent demonstrations were met with deadly force by the security forces.

The Assistance Association estimates that 1,887 civilians have died at the hands of police and the military in crackdowns against opponents of military rule.

Some resistance groups have engaged in assassinations, drive-by shootings and bombings in urban areas.

The mainstream opposition organisations generally disavow such activities, while supporting armed resistance in rural areas, which are more often subject to brutal military attacks.