Military executes four democracy activists

The Myanmar/Burma army, known as the Tatmadaw, announced on 25 July that it had executed four democracy activists who were accused of helping to carry out “terror acts”. The judicial executions are the first to take place in the country since 1990.

Former MP Phyo Zeya Thaw and activist Kyaw Min Yu, also known as Ko Jimmy, were initially sentenced to death in January 2022, and their appeals were rejected in June. Activists Hla Myo Aung and Aung Thura Zaw were also executed.

The executions have drawn widespread international condemnation, including from Tom Andrews, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, who wrote in a statement: “These depraved acts must be a turning point for the international community. What more must the junta do before the international community is willing to take strong action? The widespread and systematic murders of protesters, indiscriminate attacks against entire villages, and now the execution of opposition leaders, demands an immediate and firm response by member states of the United Nations. The status quo of international inaction must be firmly rejected.”

According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners in Burma (AAPP), which has been documenting events since the military took power in a coup in February 2021, 2,114 people had been killed, 14,847 had been arrested, and 11,759 people remained detained as of 22 July.

CSW’s Senior Analyst for East Asia Benedict Rogers said: “CSW extends our deepest condolences to the loved ones of Phyo Zeya Thaw, Ko Jimmy, Hla Myo Aung and Aung Thura Zaw. Their executions are a blight on the conscience of the international community, which has failed to take significant action as the Tatmadaw has waged egregious violence against innocent civilians for nearly 18 months. We call for this moment to be a turning point, and urge UN Member States to move beyond the initial imposition of sanctions by some countries and to a more co-ordinated and concrete response which includes a full and comprehensive global arms embargo against the military and co-ordinated, comprehensive sanctions against its enterprises.”