06/04/2022, 15.18
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Myanmar junta sentences two activists to death

The generals rejected the appeals, ensuring that the hanging will proceed. Despite the violence of the civil war, Myanmar had not carried out the death penalty since the 1990s. Ko Jimmy and Phyo Zeya Thaw had also opposed the previous military regime.

Yangon (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Myanmar’s military junta announced yesterday that it had rejected the appeal of two activists sentenced to death, who “will be hanged according to prison procedures,” said military spokesman Zaw Min Tun.

Kyaw Min Yu, a long-time democracy activist known as "Ko Jimmy" and Phyo Zeyar Thaw, a former hip-hop artist and lawmaker for the National League for Democracy, the party of Aung San Suu Kyi, who led the country before the 1 February 2021 coup, were found guilty of treason and terrorism by a military court in January.

Theirs are the first judicial executions in Myanmar since the 1990s. Two other men, sentenced to death for the murder of a woman believed to be a military informant, will also be put to death.

After the outbreak of civil war, Myanmar’s military junta imprisoned and killed thousands of civilians, but for decades judicial executions, usually imposed for serious crimes like murder, were not carried out in Myanmar.

The activists “continued the legal process of appealing and sending a request letter for the amendment of the sentence,” the spokesman said. A date has not yet been set for their execution.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres condemned the junta’s decision as "a blatant violation to the right to life, liberty and security of person," his spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

The decision to “move towards executing two prominent political leaders will be like pouring gasoline on the fire of popular anti-military resistance in the country”, said Phil Robertson, a deputy director at Human Rights Watch.

Ko Jimmy, who was known for participating in the 1988 student uprising against the previous military regime, was arrested in October on charges of inciting unrest with his social media posts.

Phyo Zeya Thaw was jailed in 2008 for membership in an illegal organisation and possession of foreign currency. With his music he irritated the previous military government, but managed to get himself elected to Parliament in 2015 during Myanmar's transition to democracy.

Jailed former pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi is set to be tried in-camera; she faces up to 150 years in prison.

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