Myanmar junta executes leading pro-democracy activists Ko Jimmy and Fio Zayar Toe

Veteran democracy activist Kyaw Min Yu, better known as Ko Jimmy, and former National League for Democracy MP Phyo Zayar Thaw were executed along with Hla Myo Aung and Aung Tura Zau, Global New Light of Myanmar reported without a date.

Their deaths mark the first judicial executions in the country in decades. human rights activists are afraid more will follow. According to Human Rights Watch, 114 people have been sentenced to death in Myanmar since the military took over during the February 2021 coup d’état

Koh Jimmy and Fio Zayar Tou were accused by the military of “involvement in terrorist acts such as bombings, killings of civilians as informers,” said junta spokesman Zo Ming Tun. previously told CNN. They were sentenced to death in January 2022, and last month, Chief Min Tun confirmed that their appeals had been rejected.

Civil cases have been heard by military courts in private cases since the military seized power last year, toppling an elected government and reversing nearly a decade of tentative democratic reforms.

Myanmar may take first executions in decades as junta says death sentences for two activists upheld

Human rights groups say these secret military tribunals make it impossible to have a fair trial and are designed for quick and near-guaranteed convictions, regardless of evidence.

This was stated by the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar, Tom Andrews. statement On Monday, he was “outraged and devastated” by the executions.

“My heart goes out to their families, friends and loved ones, as well as to all the people of Myanmar who have been victims of the escalating atrocities of the junta,” he said. “These individuals were tried, convicted and sentenced by a military tribunal without the right to appeal and reportedly without a lawyer, in violation of international human rights law.”

Elaine Pearson, acting Human Rights Watch Asia Director, called the executions “an act of extreme brutality” that “followed a highly unfair and politically motivated military trial.”

“This terrible news was compounded by the junta’s failure to notify the families of the men who learned of the executions from junta media reports,” Pearson said in a statement Monday.

A spokesman for the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, said earlier that the UN was “deeply concerned” by the decision to execute the men, calling it “a flagrant violation of the right to life, liberty and security of person”, citing an article in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Amnesty International said it had recorded a “disturbing” increase in the number of death sentences in the country since the takeover, which it said was meant to “inspire fear”.

Fio Zayar Tou, member of the lower house of the National League for Democracy in Naypyidaw, August 24, 2015

“The death sentence has become one of the many horrifying ways in which Myanmar’s military is trying to instill fear among all who oppose their rule and will exacerbate serious human rights violations, including lethal violence against peaceful demonstrators and other civilians,” the organization said. — said on Twitter in June.

A 2021 Amnesty report states that the last known judicial execution in Myanmar took place in 1988. Since then, there have been numerous death sentences handed down in the country, but they have usually been “commutated with mass pardons,” Amnesty reports.

CNN was unable to independently verify when the last state execution was carried out in Myanmar.

Prominent activists

Fio Zayar Thaw, 41, was previously a member of Myanmar’s lower house of parliament for the then-governing National League for Democracy, the party of the ousted state adviser. Aung San Suu Kyi.

Before becoming a politician, Fio Zayar Thaw was a popular hip hop artist and founding member of the pro-democracy youth organization Generation Wave. He was imprisoned in 2008 by the former military regime for his activism.

In November 2021, Fio Zayar Tou was arrested during a raid on an apartment complex in Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon. According to local media reports, he was charged with planning attacks on junta targets and under the Anti-Terrorism Act and the State Property Protection Act.

Ko Jimmy became a prominent student activist in Myanmar during the massive popular uprising against the then military regime in 1988. He spent about 15 years behind bars for his activism and participation in the 8888 demonstrations and the 2007 Saffron Revolution.

Myanmar political prisoner Kyaw Ming Yu (centre) and his wife Ni Lar Thein (left) upon arrival at Yangon International Airport following their release from detention on January 13, 2012.

According to local media reports, Ko Jimmy was detained in October 2021 on charges of organizing guerrilla attacks on junta facilities, as well as treason and terrorist crimes. He was also wanted by the regime for allegedly inciting unrest through social media posts critical of the coup.

Since the takeover military junta led by Min Aung Hlaing launched a bloody repression against any opposition to his rule. According to the Association for Assistance to Political Prisoners, during this time, about 15,000 people were arrested and more than 2,000 were killed by the military.
The military was accused of crimes against humanity and war crimes by the United States, the United Nations and other international bodies, as attempts to gain control over people who keep on leading mass resistance campaign.

“The junta’s barbarism and callous disregard for human life is designed to cool the anti-coup protest movement,” Pearson of Human Rights Watch said Monday.

“Member states of the European Union, the United States and other governments must show the junta that there will be retribution for its crimes.”