Myanmar junta executes four democracy activists

July 25 (Reuters) – Myanmar’s military authorities have executed four democracy activists accused of helping to commit “terrorist acts”, state media said on Monday, the first executions in the Southeast Asian country. Has been for decades.

Sentenced to death in January in a closed trial, the four men had been accused of helping militias fight the army which seized power in a coup last year and unleashed a bloody crackdown on its opponents.

The sentences had drawn international condemnation, with two UN experts calling them a “vile attempt to instill fear” among the population. Read more

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Among those executed were democracy figure Kyaw Min Yu, better known as Jimmy, and former lawmaker and hip-hop artist Phyo Zeya Thaw, the Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper said.

Kyaw Min Yu, 53, and Phyo Zeya Thaw, a 41-year-old ally of ousted Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi, lost their appeals against the convictions in June. The other two executed were Hla Myo Aung and Aung Thura Zaw.

The four were charged under the anti-terrorism law and penal code and the sentence was carried out in accordance with prison procedure, the newspaper said, without giving further details. Previous executions in Myanmar have been by hanging.

An activist group, the Assistance Association of Political Prisoners (AAPP), said the last judicial executions in Myanmar dated back to the late 1980s.

A military spokesperson did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment.

Last month, military spokesman Zaw Min Tun defended the death penalty, saying it was used in many countries.

“At least 50 innocent civilians, not counting the security forces, died because of them,” he told a televised press conference.

“How can you say it’s not justice?” He asked. “The required actions must be carried out in the required times.”

Thazin Nyunt Aung, wife of Phyo Zeyar Thaw, said she was not informed of her husband’s execution. Other relatives could not immediately be reached for comment.

Myanmar has been plunged into chaos since last year’s coup, with conflict spreading across the country after the army crushed mostly peaceful protests in cities.

The AAPP says more than 2,100 people have been killed by security forces since the coup, but the junta says the figure is exaggerated.

The true picture of the violence has been difficult to gauge as clashes have spread to more remote areas where ethnic minority insurgent groups are also fighting the army.

The latest executions nullify any chance of ending the unrest, said Burmese analyst Richard Horsey of the International CRISIS group.

“Any possibility of dialogue to end the crisis created by the coup has now been removed,” Horsey told Reuters.

“This is the regime demonstrating that it will do what it wants and will not listen to anyone. It sees this as a show of force, but it may be a serious miscalculation.”

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Reuters staff reports; Written by Ed Davies and Michael Perry; Editing by Lincoln Feast and Clarence Fernandez

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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