Foreign Minister Penny Wong condemned further sanctions could be imposed on the country’s ruling junta.
The war-torn country’s military announced on Monday that it had executed four people, including former MP Phyo Zeya Tau, an ally of ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
“Australia is shocked by the execution of four democracy activists in Myanmar and strongly condemns the actions of Myanmar’s military regime,” said Senator Wong.
“Australia opposes the death penalty in all circumstances for all people.”
Senator Wong said the government has urged the regime to end the violence and release people who have been unjustly detained.
“Australia is a clear and consistent supporter of human rights around the world,” she said.
“Sanctions against members of Myanmar’s military regime are under active consideration.
“We express our sincere condolences to the families and loved ones of those who died in the coup.”
Earlier this year, the men were sentenced to death in secret trials and accused of aiding a civilian resistance movement that is fighting the military in the aftermath of the 2021 coup.
In a joint statement, the European Union, Australia, Canada, Japan and the United States, among other countries, called the executions “reprehensible acts of violence that once again demonstrate the regime’s disregard for human rights and the rule of law.”
The Myanmar National Unity Government (NUG), a shadowy administration banned by the ruling junta, also condemned the executions and called for international action against the ruling military.
“Extremely saddened … I condemn the cruelty of the junta,” Zhuo Zau, a spokesman for the NUG President’s Office, told Reuters. “The world community must punish their brutality.”
Phyo Zeya Thaw, pictured here in 2015, was among the four men executed. Source: A MONKEY / Aung Shine Oo/AP
Those executed included pro-democracy activist Kyaw Ming Yu, better known as Jimmy, and former MP and hip-hop artist Phio Zeya Tou, Global New Light of Myanmar reported.
Kyaw Min Yu, 53, and Pyo Zeya Tou, a 41-year-old associate of ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi, lost their appeals against their sentences in June. The other two executed were Hla Myo Aung and Aung Tura Zau.
“These executions amount to arbitrary deprivation of life and are another example of a horrendous violation of human rights in Myanmar,” said Erwin Van Der Borcht, regional director of human rights organization Amnesty International.
“The international community must act immediately as more than 100 people are believed to be on death row after they were convicted in similar cases.”
Tazin Nyunt Aung, wife of Fio Zeyyar Thaw, said she was not informed of her husband’s execution. Other relatives could not be contacted for comment.
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, chairman of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), called on junta leader Min Aung Hlaing in June to stop executions, expressing the deep concern of Myanmar’s neighbors.
“Even the former military regime, which ruled from 1988 to 2011, did not dare to execute political prisoners,” said Malaysian MP Charles Santiago, chairman of ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights.
Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said the executions, which run counter to Japan’s repeated calls for a peace settlement as well as its demands for the release of prisoners, would further isolate Myanmar.
Myanmar has been in chaos since last year’s coup, with conflict spreading across the country after the army cracked down on mostly peaceful urban protests.
The activist group “Association for Helping Political Prisoners” reports that more than 2,100 people have been killed by security forces since the coup. The junta says this 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 rebel groups are also fighting the military.
The executions dashed hopes of any peace deal, said the Arakan Army (AA), the main ethnic militias in Myanmar’s troubled Rakhine state.
“This act nullified the efforts of ASEAN members to achieve peace and reconciliation,” the AA said in a statement, adding that the executions would only attract “braverer heroes in the future and promote the spring revolution.”