07/25/2022, 11.20
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Yangon: coup junta executes four pro-democracy opponents

The military had announced the executions in June. The state newspaper broke the news. They are the first hangings since 1988. Among those sentenced were former Phyo MP Zeya Thaw and the activist known as Ko Jimmy.

Yangon (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The military junta has executed four political prisoners who opposed the February 2020 coup: former National League for Democracy (NLD) MP Phyo Zeya Thaw, well-known activist Kyaw Min Yu, better known as Ko Jimmy, Hla Myo Aung and Aung Thura Zaw. Burmese generals, who overthrew the civilian government led by Aung San Suu Kyi, had sentenced the four men to death in January this year and announced the executions in June, after Phyo Zeya Thaw and Ko Jimmy lost their appeal. 

Although hangings were still permitted under the previous civil government, capital punishment had not been carried out since 1988.

The Global News Light of Myanmar daily broke the news. The junta claimed that the four men had 'given directives, made agreements and conspired to carry out terrorist acts'. Phyo's wife, Thazin Nyunt Aung, told Reuters that she had not been informed about her husband's execution, which according to The Irrawaddy took place in Insein prison in Yangon over the weekend.

Phyo Zeya Thaw was a hip-hop singer who wrote lyrics highly critical of the army; he was a close ally of Aung San Suu Kyi in the NLD. He was arrested in November for alleged acts of terrorism.

Ko Jimmy was a veteran of the student uprisings of '88: he had been part of a pro-democracy movement called Generation Students and for which he had served several terms in prison (together with activist Ma Nilar Thein, who later became his wife). He was released in 2012 and re-arrested in October on charges of hiding weapons and ammunition in a flat in Yangon.

Less information can be found on Hla Myo Aung and Aung Thura Zaw, but they were reportedly accused of killing an alleged military junta informant. 

A number of international organisations had joined local groups in condemning the junta's execution orders. Even Hun Sen, the prime minister of Cambodia, who is close to the Burmese regime and this year's president of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), had called on junta leader Min Aung Hlaing to 'reconsider' and 'refrain' from carrying out the execution orders, saying they were causing 'great concern among Asean members and partners'.

Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a local monitoring group, the regime has killed more than 2,000 civilians and imprisoned nearly 15,000 people since the coup.

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