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The world condemns the Myanmar junta for putting activists to death in a "cruel" way

Image: Reuters Berita 24 English - Myanmar's ruling military said on Monday that it had killed four democracy activists who were accused...


Image: Reuters

Berita 24 English - Myanmar's ruling military said on Monday that it had killed four democracy activists who were accused of helping with "terror acts." This was the country's first execution in decades, and it was widely criticised.


The men were found guilty of helping a civilian resistance movement that has been fighting the military since last year's coup and bloody crackdown on protests across the country. They were sentenced to death in secret trials in January and April.



Kyaw Min Yu, also known as Jimmy, who fought for democracy, and Phyo Zeyyi Thaw, a former lawmaker and hip-hop artist who was a friend of the former leader Aung San Suu Kyi, were both put to death. Hla Myo Aung and Aung Thura Zaw were the other two people who were put to death.



The state media said that the punishment had been carried out, but they didn't say when or how. In the past, people have been killed in Myanmar by being hung.



The shadow National Unity Government (NUG), which is in charge of trying to stop the junta from ruling Myanmar, said it was time for the international community to do something.



"Their cruelty needs to be punished by the whole world," said Kyaw Zaw, who works in the office of the NUG president.



Since the coup on February 1, 2021, Myanmar has been in chaos. The military, which has ruled the former British colony for five of the last six decades, is fighting with newly formed militia groups on multiple fronts.



Michelle Bachelet, who is in charge of human rights at the UN, said that the executions were "cruel and a step backward."



Antonio Guterres, the head of the United Nations, strongly condemned the executions and called again for the release of all prisoners who are being held without a good reason, including Aung San Suu Kyi.



In a joint statement, the European Union, Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea, Britain, and the United States called the executions "reprehensible acts of violence that show the regime's disregard for human rights and the rule of law."



Chiara Sangiorgio, who works on the death penalty for Amnesty International, said that the executions were "a huge setback" and that the junta "is not going to stop there."



Elaine Pearson, who is the acting Asia director for Human Rights Watch, called it "an act of utter cruelty" that is meant to stop people from protesting against the coup.



One video showed a group of masked protesters chanting and carrying a big sign that said "We will never be afraid" down a street in Yangon before running away.



'HIDING BODIES AWAY'



The executions were the first of about 117 death sentences handed down by military-run courts since the coup, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), which has been keeping track of arrests, killings, and court decisions in Myanmar.



Thazin Nyunt Aung, the wife of Phyo Zeyar Thaw, said that the families of the men who were killed were not allowed to get their bodies back. She compared this to murderers hiding their crimes.



She told Reuters, "This is killing and hiding bodies." "They didn't respect both the people of Myanmar and the rest of the world."



Kyaw Min Yu's wife, Nilar Thein, said she wouldn't have a funeral without a body.



She wrote on Facebook, "We all have to be brave, determined, and strong."



The men were held in Yangon's Insein prison, where their families were able to see them last Friday, according to a person familiar with the situation. This person also said that prison officials only let one relative talk to the detainees via video call.



"Then I asked, 'Why didn't you tell me or my son that was the last time we'd see each other?'" Khin Win May, Phyo Zeyar Thaw's mother, told BBC Burmese about what happened.



On Monday night's news show, the junta didn't say anything about the executions.



Last month, its spokesperson said that death sentences are fair and are used in many countries.



'HEINOUS EXECUTION'



The White House said it was "heinous" that democracy supporters and elected leaders were killed. When asked about possible sanctions on the country's gas sector, U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said that Washington was considering more steps to take against the junta and that "all options" were on the table.



Price asked other countries not to sell weapons to Myanmar and not to do anything that would help the junta's reputation in the international community.



In a statement, the head of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Menendez, asked President Joe Biden to put sanctions on Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise and other companies.



Mitch McConnell, who has been close to Suu Kyi for a long time, is the leader of the Republicans in the Senate. He asked Myanmar's neighbours to do something. "If they won't step up and make the junta pay real costs, the Biden administration should use the powers Congress has already given it to punish Burma's energy sector," he said.



As chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen sent a letter to Myanmar's junta leader Min Aung Hlaing last month asking him not to carry out the executions. He said that Myanmar's neighbours were very worried about the situation.



France was against the killings and asked for everyone to talk.



China's foreign ministry told all sides in Myanmar to settle their differences in a way that is consistent with the country's constitution.



Some people called for quick punishments.



Tom Andrews, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, told Reuters that the U.N. Security Council should "pass a strong resolution that not only condemns but also calls for clear strategic action, sanctions, economic sanctions, and an arms embargo."



The AAPP says that since the coup, security forces have killed more than 2,100 people. The junta says that number is too high.



Since fighting has spread to more remote areas where ethnic minority insurgent groups are also fighting the military, it has been hard to get a clear picture of what is really going on.



The Arakan Army (AA), one of more than a dozen ethnic minority armies in Myanmar that have been fighting the military for years, said that the executions had destroyed any hope of a peace deal.



Analyst Richard Horsey of the International Crisis Group said that the executions will make it impossible to end the unrest in Myanmar. "The military sees this as a sign of strength, but it could be a big mistake," says the article.

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