Myanmar Regime’s Execution of Democracy Activists Condemned at Home and Abroad

By The Irrawaddy 25 July 2022

Condemnation and outrage at the Myanmar junta’s execution of four anti-coup activists has poured in from both home and abroad in the hours since the military regime announced that it had carried out the hangings of veteran democracy activist Ko Jimmy, former National league for Democracy lawmaker Ko Phyo Zeya Thaw, Ko Aung Thura Zaw and Ko Hla Myo Aung. It was the first time in four decades that political dissidents have been executed in Myanmar.

Despite international appeals for mercy and restraint, the junta went ahead with the executions. An announcement published in Monday’s newspapers stated that “the punishment has been carried out” against the four men for masterminding and being involved in armed resistance and other anti-regime activities. 

The executions were carried out on Saturday, according to sources, one day after relatives of the victims had a video call with them. However, the sources said that the families were not notified that it would be their last meeting before they were executed. Below are some of the initial responses to the news of the hangings.

Tom Andrews, United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar

“I’m outraged and devastated at the news of the junta’s execution of Myanmar patriots and champions of human rights and democracy. My heart goes out to their families, friends and loved ones and indeed all the people of Myanmar who are victims of the junta’s escalating atrocities. These individuals were tried, convicted, and sentenced by a military tribunal without the right of appeal and reportedly without legal counsel, in violation of international human rights law…..UN Member States must honor their lives by making this depraved act a turning point for the world’s response to this crisis.”

United League of Arakan, a political wing of ethnic armed organization the Arakan Army

“We are deeply sad and angry at the news of the junta’s execution of the four detainees, along with their families and the entire people of Myanmar, as well as concerned for the country’s future and for the prospect of peace. This act has clearly destroyed all the efforts by the International community, neighboring countries and ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) member states towards peace and reconciliation…..We see this stupid act of executing the detainees by the State Administration Council, despite the international community’s calls for restraint, as a challenge to the unbowed spirits of the entire people. The executions will only attract braver heroes to contribute to the revolution.”

General Gun Maw, vice Chair of the Kachin Independence Army 

“If it true, I would say it is stupidity…..Even those who want to seek justification to forgive them [the junta] will now draw back.”

U Yee Mon, defense minister of the National Unity Government 

“The revolution won’t be over until coup leader Min Aung Hlaing faces justice. There shouldn’t be an inch of ground for him to run to, as we will follow him to the end of the world.”

United States Embassy 

“We condemn the military regime’s execution of pro-democracy leaders and elected officials for exercising their fundamental freedoms. We join the people of Myanmar in mourning the loss of Ko Jimmy, Ko Phyo Zeya Thaw, Hla Myo Aung and Aung Thura Zaw.”

Duwa Lashi La, acting President of the National Unity Government

“Extremely saddened and outraged to read the news of the execution of four democracy activists including Ko Jimmy and Ko Phyo Zayar Thaw. UN, ASEAN and international actors must take action against the murderous junta.”

Justice for Myanmar

”The shocking executions of Phyo Zeya Thaw, Ko Jimmy, Hla Myo Aung and Aung Thura Zaw are crimes against humanity and war crimes. All perpetrators from Min Aung Hlaing down must be held accountable for these brazen acts of cruelty.”

Amnesty International Asia-Pacific Director Erwin van der Borght

“These executions amount to arbitrary deprivation of lives and are another example of Myanmar’s atrocious human rights record. The four men were convicted by a military court in highly secretive and deeply unfair trials. The international community must act immediately as more than 100 people are believed to be on death row after being convicted in similar proceedings…..For more than a year now, Myanmar’s military authorities have engaged in extrajudicial killings, torture and a whole gamut of human rights violations. The military will only continue to trample on people’s lives if they are not held accountable.”

Human Rights Watch acting Asia Director Elaine Pearson

“The Myanmar junta’s execution of four men was an act of utter cruelty. These executions, including of activist Ko Jimmy and opposition lawmaker Phyo Zeya Thaw, followed grossly unjust and politically motivated military trials. This horrific news was compounded by the junta’s failure to notify the men’s families, who learned about the executions through the junta’s media reports. The junta’s barbarity and callous disregard for human life aims to chill the anti-coup protest movement. European Union member states, the United States, and other governments should show the junta that there will be a reckoning for its crimes. They should demand immediate measures, including the release of all political prisoners, and let the junta know the atrocities it commits have consequences.”

U Moe Zaw Oo, Deputy foreign minister of National Unity Government

“The regime have committed an ‘unforgivable’ act, for which there will be serious consequences.The junta will have to pay the legal price. The executions have made us more determined to topple the regime.”

U Bo Kyi, Joint Secretary of Assistance Association for Political Prisoners“

If they executed the four, it is a crime, Min Aung Hlaing committed murder. The junta is illegal, unelected by the people, they have no right to execute”.