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Myanmar to carry out executions

Myanmar’s military-installed government reportedly will execute a former MP from ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s party and a veteran pro-democracy activist convicted of violating the country’s Counter-Terrorism Law.

Two online news outlets, Voice of Myanmar and NP News, said two other men convicted of killing a woman they believed was an informer for the military will also be executed, in addition to former MP Phyo Zeya Thaw and activist Kyaw Min Yu, also known as Ko Jimmy.

Government spokesperson Major General. Zaw Min Tun was cited as saying the decision to carry out the hangings was confirmed after legal appeals by the four were rejected.

He was cited as saying the executions will go ahead in accordance with prison procedures. According to the law, executions must be approved by the head of the government. He did not say when the executions would be carried out.

The United Nations, which has advocated against the death penalty, called the Myanmar military’s decision to execute the two pro-democracy activists “a blatant violation” of the right to life, liberty and security guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Last year’s army takeover triggered nationwide popular protests, which turned into a low-level insurgency after nonviolent demonstrations were met with deadly force by the security forces. The Assistance Association estimates that 1,887 civilians have died at the hands of police and the military in crackdowns against opponents of military rule.

The last judicial execution to be carried out in Myanmar is generally believed to have been of another political offender, student leader Salai Tin Maung Oo, in 1976 under a previous military government led by dictator Ne Win.

In 2014, the sentences of prisoners on death row were commuted to life imprisonment, but several dozen convicts received death sentences between then and last year’s takeover.

Phyo Zeya Thaw, also known as Maung Kyaw, and Kyaw Min Yu were given death sentences in January this year by a closed military court. They were found guilty of offenses involving explosives, bombings and financing terrorism.

Phyo Zeya Thaw had been a hip-hop musician before becoming as a member of Generation Wave, a political movement formed in 2007.

He was arrested last November on a charge of possessing weapons and ammunition, according to a report in a state-run newspaper at the time. It said he was arrested on the basis of information from people detained a day earlier for shooting security personnel.

Kyaw Min Yu is one of the leaders of the 88 Generation Students Group, veterans of a failed 1988 popular uprising against military rule.

He has been active politically since then, and spent more than a dozen years behind bars. He was arrested in Yangon last October.

The other two men sentenced to die, Hla Myo Aung and Aung Thura Zaw, were convicted in April last year of allegedly torturing and killing a woman in Yangon. They targeted her as an alleged military informer and killed her in March 2021, according to an April 2021 statement from the Office of the Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services.

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