IAWM CONDEMNS THE EXECUTION OF PRO-DEMOCRACY PRISONERS IN MYANMAR
Four pollitical prisoners hanged, with 100 others currently on death row
The Irish Anti War Movement condemns in the strongest terms the execution of four pro-democracy activists, in jail for opposing the military coup on 1 February 2021, when the military declared falsely that the election on 8 November 2020 was fraudulent.
The four protesters hanged were accused of helping ‘insurgents’ rise up against the junta. They were Phyo Zeya Thaw, Kyaw Min Yu, Hla Myo Aung and Aung Thura Zaw.
Aung Myo Min, Human Rights Minister for the National Unity Government, a shadow civilian administration established outside Myanmar after the military seized power, rejects the allegations that the men were involved in violence.
The executions, first announced in the state-run Mirror Daily newspaper, were carried out despite worldwide pleas for clemency for the four men, including representations from United Nations experts and Cambodia, which holds the rotating chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations [ASEAN].
The European Union, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, United Kingdom and United States issued a joint statement condemning the executions. “The Myanmar military regime’s executions of pro-democracy and opposition leaders are reprehensible acts of violence that further exemplify the regime’s disregard for human rights and the rule of law,” they said.
Amnesty International said the executions were an ‘atrocious escalation in state repression’ and warned that around 100 others were currently on death row after being convicted in junta courts. Under the junta’s martial law provisions, the death penalty could be given for 23 ‘vague and broadly defined offences’ – which in practice could include any criticism of the military.
The IAWM supports the worldwide call for the immediate release of all arbitrarily detained prisoners in Myanmar, including President Win Myint and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, who is now facing the rest of her life behind bars at a secret location.
Min Aung Hlaing, the commander-in-chief of the country’s armed forces, the Tatmadaw, launched the violent coup – the first since 1988 – to overthrow the election, which had been won in a landslide by Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy. Since then, Myanmar’s military regime has brutally repressed the population as it tries to quash dissent and consolidate its grip on the country.
As one report notes:
“A broad-based resistance movement is using non-violent and violent means to prevent the junta from succeeding. With no sign that the deadlock will end soon, vulnerable populations face a dire future. In addition to the insecurity, Myanmar’s economy is in freefall, the national currency is crashing, health and education systems have collapsed, poverty rates are estimated to have doubled since 2019, and half of all households cannot afford enough food.” [The Deadly Stalemate in Post-coup Myanmar | Crisis Group]
Myat Min Khant of the All Burma Federation of Student Unions said that the military and police roam streets disguised as fruit sellers or trishaw, motorcycle, or taxi drivers and embed themselves among the people to surveil anyone daring to express dissent.
Glenda Cimino, IAWM Steering Committee member said:
“The people of Myanmar have been living an ongoing nightmare since the coup, but these shocking executions are the first use of capital punishment in Myanmar in 50 years. Despite the severe situation and the considerable risks associated with having a failed state at the heart of the Indo-Pacific, international attention has waned. But aid is badly needed, in a way that doesn’t reinforce regime structures. It is vital that the Irish Government issues a public statement condemning these executions and tables a resolution on the issue the UNSC on behalf of the people of Myanmar.”
The IAWM calls for:
– an end to executions of political prisoners
– the immediate release of all arbitrarily detained prisoners
– a global arms embargo and targeted sanctions against military leaders
– the UN to refer the situation in Myanmar to the International Criminal Court
– Senior General Min Aung Hlaing and other senior officials to be investigated and prosecuted for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide
– cutting the flow of funds to the military junta by local and foreign companies in partnership with the miitary or military-owned business responsibly disengaging
– ASEAN to demand the military immediately stop the violence against civilians and assert pressure to stop blocking humanitarian access
Glenda Cimino, Steering Committee IAWM, Tel. 086 124 9456
Jim Roche, PRO Steering Committee, IAWM, Tel. 087 6472737
Michael Youlton, Chair Steering Committee, IAWM, Tel. 086 8159487
John Molyneux, Member, Steering Committee, IAWM, Tel. 085 7356424
Sara O Rourke, Member, Steering Committee, IAWM, Tel. 087 6024821
Marnie Holborow, Member, Steering Committee, IAWM, Tel. 087 9889244
Mark Price, Member, Steering Committee, IAWM, Tel. 086 3454332