HomeWorldWidespread condemnation of the execution of prisoners in Myanmar

Widespread condemnation of the execution of prisoners in Myanmar


By DAVID RISING and EILEEN NG Associated Press

BANGKOK (AP) — International outrage over the execution of four political prisoners in Myanmar intensified Tuesday with strong condemnation from world governments and popular protests.

Myanmar’s military government that seized power from elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi in February 2021 has been accused of thousands of extrajudicial executions since then, but the hangings announced Monday were the country’s first official executions in decades.

“We feel this is a crime against humanity,” Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah said, speaking alongside UN Special Envoy for Myanmar Noeleen Heyzer at a news conference in Kuala Lumpur.

He said executions would be the focus of upcoming meetings of foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which start in Cambodia in a week.

Political cartoons about world leaders

Political Cartoons

Myanmar is a member of the influential ASEAN group, which has been trying to implement a five-point consensus it reached on Myanmar last year calling for dialogue between all parties involved, provision of humanitarian assistance, an immediate cessation of violence and the visit of a special envoy to meet with all parties.

With the executions, he said, “we see it as if the board is making a mockery of the five-point process.”

In Bangkok, hundreds of pro-democracy demonstrators protested outside the embassy of neighboring Myanmar, waving flags and chanting slogans amid a heavy downpour.

“The dictators used their power arbitrarily,” a young man shouted through a megaphone to the crowd, some of whom were waving pictures of Suu Kyi or the four executed men. “We cannot tolerate this anymore.”

Among the four executed were Phyo Zeya Thaw, a 41-year-old former MP from Suu Kyi’s party, and Kyaw Min Yu, a 53-year-old democracy activist better known as Ko Jimmy. All were tried, found guilty and sentenced by a military court without the possibility of appeal.

The execution of the four activists prompted immediate calls from around the world for a moratorium on the execution of further sentences and convictions for what was widely seen as a politically motivated move.

Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, announced in June that it would resume executing prisoners and has 113 others who have been sentenced to death, although 41 of them were sentenced in absentia, according to the Political Prisoners Assistance Association, a nonprofit organization. governmental. government organization that tracks murders and arrests. At the same time, 2,120 civilians have been killed by the security forces since the military coup.

“This was a barbaric act by the Myanmar military regime,” New Zealand Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta said of the four executions carried out. “New Zealand condemns these actions in the strongest possible terms.”

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong said she was “appalled” by the executions.

“Australia opposes the death penalty in all circumstances for all people,” he said.

Earlier, Australia and New Zealand had joined the European Union, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Norway and South Korea in a joint statement condemning the executions.

ASEAN denounced the executions as “highly reprehensible”.

He said the move represented a setback to the group’s efforts to facilitate a dialogue between military leaders and opponents.

“We make a strong and urgent appeal to all parties involved to desist from taking measures that would only further aggravate the crisis, hinder peaceful dialogue between all parties involved and endanger peace, security and stability, not only in Myanmar, but in the entire region.” the group said in a statement.

The military takeover of Suu Kyi’s elected government sparked peaceful protests that soon turned into armed resistance and then widespread fighting that some UN experts characterize as a civil war.

Some resistance groups have engaged in assassinations, drive-by shootings and bombings in urban areas. The main opposition organizations generally disapprove of such activities, while supporting armed resistance in rural areas that are more often the target of brutal military attacks.

News of the executions sparked a flash demonstration on Monday in Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon, where a dozen protesters took to the streets marching behind a banner reading “we are never afraid”, then quickly slipped away before that the authorities could confront them.

It is generally believed that the last judicial execution carried out in Myanmar was that of another political offender, student leader Salai Tin Maung Oo, in 1976 under a previous military government led by dictator Ne Win.

The four executed men had been accused of violent acts against the government, charges that their defenders denied.

Ng reported from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Chalida Ekvitthayavechnukul in Bangkok contributed to this report.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.



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