Over 20 Anti-Coup Activists Sentenced to Death by Myanmar Junta

By The Irrawaddy 25 November 2021

Myanmar military tribunals handed down death sentences to 21 people on Tuesday for their alleged involvement in attacks on military targets. Another 29 people received life terms in jail.

Among those sentenced to death are people accused of killing two regime-appointed local administrators in Yangon’s South Dagon Township, as well as an alleged military informant and a ward administrator and his driver in Yangon’s Dagon Seikkan Township. The killings took place in July and August.

Youths accused of undergoing military training in areas controlled by ethnic armies were among those sentenced to life in prison. Also given life sentences were people accused of making donations to People’s Defense Forces and the civilian National Unity Government, as well as people allegedly involved in bomb attacks on administration offices in Yangon’s Hlaing Tharyar Township.

The death sentences have been handed down to anti-regime protesters in townships currently under martial law. The military regime has imposed martial law in Hlaing Tharyar, Shwepyithar, South Dagon, North Dagon, Dagon Seikkan and North Okkalapa townships in Yangon, as well as in townships in Mandalay.

Martial law orders laid out 23 ‘offenses’ to be tried in military tribunals in the designated townships, all of them carrying penalties of either death or life imprisonment.

The offenses include high treason, sedition, obstructing military personnel and civil servants performing their duties, instigation, incitement, spreading ‘false’ news, possession of weapons, ties to unlawful associations, homicide, rape, robbery, corruption, drug abuse and vandalism.

Up until the end of October, the junta had sentenced 65 people to death including two people under the age of 18, according to rights group the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

39 of them were tried in their absence and the junta has issued arrest warrants against them.

None of those sentenced to death are believed to have been executed. The last time the death penalty is known to have been used in Myanmar was 1988.

Rights groups have condemned the death sentences, which were handed down after egregiously unfair trials. The trials were conducted in secret, while the rules of evidence and procedure applicable in civilian courts do not apply to military tribunals.

Those sentenced by the military tribunals can appeal only to coup leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing to reverse the decision within 15 days of sentencing.

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