Myanmar Junta’s Executions ‘Unforgivable’

By The Irrawaddy 25 July 2022

The Myanmar regime has once again delivered an affront to the entire population, with the executions of four democracy activists: veteran pro-democracy campaigner Ko Jimmy, former National League for Democracy lawmaker Ko Phyo Zeya Thaw, Ko Hla Myo Aung and Ko Aung Thura Zaw.

Never missing an opportunity to show inhumanity to its opponents, the junta hanged the activists on Saturday without giving any prior notice to their families, then refused to release the bodies so that funerals could be held. In shock and denied physical evidence, some of the victims’ relatives have been unable to accept the reality of the executions.

The previous affront to the country came in February last year with the military coup. The nation of 54 million people wholeheartedly rejected the takeover, initially by staging peaceful protests and then by launching the ongoing armed struggle against the regime. More than one year on, the junta is still struggling to control the country, humiliated in the eyes of the world as masters of a failed coup.

Then came the hangings.

The regime’s Saturday executions were nothing but a blatant violation of the victims’ right to life, liberty and security. For the majority of Myanmar’s people, who have been suffering under the boot of the military regime, the hangings will be viewed as unforgivable. More than that, they will serve as the latest push factor increasing the people’s determination to topple the regime by any means and accelerating the armed resistance against it. The hangings will simply spur those waging the armed struggle against the regime to intensify their efforts.

It is now clearer than ever that Myanmar is on the road to more bloodshed.

Internationally, the hangings were intended as a show of defiance by the junta to all those who dream of a just peace in Myanmar, which has been devastated by conflict since the coup last year.

Since the junta vowed in June to carry out the hangings, the world had followed the four activists’ cases with concern, urging the regime not to execute the men. Junta ally China reportedly asked the regime not to proceed with the executions, as did Japan. Cambodia, which currently holds the rotating chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), of which Myanmar is a member, asked junta chief Min Aung Hlaing to reconsider the decision, saying the executions could cause “great concern among the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and its external partners.”

With the hangings of the activists at Yangon’s Insein Prison on Saturday, however, the junta has made plain to the international community that it doesn’t give a fig what anyone in the outside world has to say.

For the West, especially the US, the executions should serve as a wakeup call that it is time for a harsher, more proactive approach, for real steps to punish the regime, and time to stop hiding behind the toothless ASEAN. After wasting more than a year supporting the bloc’s failed peace plan for Myanmar, it’s time they review their Myanmar policies—rather than simply continuing to impose sanctions and arms embargos against the regime—and provide practical assistance to the Myanmar people’s ongoing war against the junta.

On Saturday, Myanmar lost four more sons to the brutal regime, which knows nothing but killing. Lest you forget, more than 2,000 others have already been killed by the junta. Myanmar’s people are sick of your condolences for those who have been killed, and your condemnation of the regime on Facebook.

If the world don’t want to see more violence and bloodshed in Myanmar, please act—and act now.

For Myanmar’s people, there can be no turning away from the fight, as long as these inhumane old boys in uniform are in power.