Executions of political prisoners would backfire on Myanmar junta, analysts say — Radio Free Asia

As rumors that the Burmese junta was set to hang veteran democracy activist Ko Jimmy and three other men went viral on social media on Thursday, other junta opponents and analysts said the realization of the executions would backfire on the military regime that has ruled the country since the last coup. year.

Rumors of executions at dawn on Thursday did not materialize, but critics said carrying out the death penalty handed down after brief closed-door terrorism trials would bring more international opprobrium and galvanize national opposition against the unpopular junta.

“There will be calls for more pressure against the junta on the international stage, and the junta will find it harder to impose its power on young people across the country,” said Aung Moe Zaw, chairman of the Democratic Party for a new society. FRG.

“I think more people will be on the streets,” he added.

On June 3, Ko Jimmy, MP Phyo Zeyar Thaw of the National League for Democracy party which was banned after the military overthrew the country’s elected government on February 1, 2021, and two other men lost appeals to their death sentence. The junta rejected the possibility of a pardon for the condemned.

Ko Jimmy, real name Kyaw Min Yu, was a prominent leader of the 88 Generation pro-democracy student group who fought against military rule three decades ago.

The 53-year-old activist was arrested in October after spending eight months in hiding and was convicted by a military court in January under the anti-terrorism law. He was accused of contacting the National Unity Government (NUG) and the People’s Defense Forces (PDF), an opposition coalition and militia network formed by politicians ousted in the February 1 that the junta declared terrorist organizations.

In September, the NUG declared a nationwide state of emergency and called for open rebellion against the junta’s rule, prompting an escalation of attacks on military targets by various allied pro-democracy militias and armed groups. ethnic.

Myanmar democracy activist Ko Jimmy (left) and former Myanmar lawmaker Phyo Zeya Thaw (right) in a combination photo created on June 3, 2022. Credit: AFP/Myanmar’s Military Information Team

First judicial execution since 1988

Ko Jimmy was also accused of advising local militias in Yangon and ordering PDF groups to attack police, military targets and government offices, and asking the NUG to buy a printer 3D to produce weapons for local PDFs.

The four death sentences, along with 111 others handed down by junta courts between the 2021 military coup and May 19 this year, have drawn criticism from legal experts and advocacy groups of Rights, who claim that the regime threatens the public with unjust executions.

The United Nations, Washington, Ottawa and Paris issued statements strongly condemning the rulings in the running cases.

A call against carrying out what would be Myanmar’s first judicial execution since 1988 came from Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, who wrote to junta leader Senator General Min Aung Hlaing on June 10, urging him to “reconsider the sentences and refrain from executing”. death sentences.

If carried out, the executions would “trigger a very strong and widespread negative reaction from the international community” and undermine efforts to find a peaceful solution to the crisis in Myanmar, wrote Hun Sen, in his capacity as president. turning point of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), of which Myanmar is a member.

Thiha Win Tin, former member of the All Burma Federation of Student Unions,

These execution plans of the four would trigger an angry reaction in many sectors of society that do not accept the legitimacy of the junta or the military tribunals that imposed the death penalty.

“It’s not a death sentence. They were just arrested and sentenced to be killed,” he said.

“It’s not just Phyo Zeyar Thaw and Ko Jimmy. Many of our comrades were killed during interrogations, some killed in the street – unarmed and peaceful protesters arrested late at night,” Thiha Win Tin added.

Army hatred will grow

Mar Kee (also known as Kyaw Kyaw Htwe), a political ally of Ko Jimmy since the 1980s, said “the consequences will not be good” if the executions take place.

“There were people in the country who accepted Jimmy and Zeyar Thaw and their work, and there were those who did not. Even those who do not accept them, as well as those in the middle, would be outraged if the death penalty should be imposed on people for their political beliefs,” he told RFA.

“I think the hatred against [the army] will grow.”

Local anti-junta PDF groups and other opponents of the regime have issued a series of warnings in recent days that they will retaliate if Ko Jimmy, Phyo Zeyar Thaw and the others are put to death.

Military spokesman Major General Zaw Min Tun, speaking at a conference in Naypyidaw on Thursday, defended the planned executions as a necessary measure by a sovereign country, but did not specify when they would take place.

“Innocent people have lost their lives because of the encouragement of these two [of anti-junta militias],” he said. “I just said innocent people. I’m not talking about security personnel.

“At least 50 lives have been lost thanks to their support. So how can you say it’s not fair? said Zaw Min Tun.

The junta did not provide any evidence to support these allegations and the spokesman did not give details.

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), a Thailand-based advocacy group, said 1,958 people have been killed and 14,139 anti-regime activists across the country have been arrested in more than 16 months since the coup military state. Among them, 11,081 are still in detention.

Political analyst Sai Kyi Zin Soe said no one in Myanmar would believe the multi-party elections the military has promised to hold in 2023 if the executions go ahead.

“When the elections come in 2023, these guys, who were supposed to run for office but were unjustly executed, will be out,” he told RFA.

“People will wonder how this election could be fair when those who have the right to participate in the elections have been executed. And how will they explain? They will never be able to justify it,” Sai Kyi Zin Soe said.

Translated by Khin Maung Nyane. Written by Paul Eckert.

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