Myanmar’s junta has executed four prisoners, including a former lawmaker from Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, state media said Monday, in the first use of the death penalty in decades.
Phyo Zeya Thaw, a former National League for Democracy (NLD) MP for Suu Kyi, arrested in November, was sentenced to death in January for offenses against terrorism laws. Prominent democracy activist Kyaw Min Yu – better known as “Jimmy” – was given the same sentence by the military court.
The other two men were sentenced to death for the murder of a woman they accused of being a junta informant in Yangon.
The four men were executed for leading “brutal and inhumane acts of terrorism”, the Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper said. The newspaper said the executions took place “according to prison procedure”, without specifying when or how the four men were killed.
The junta sentenced dozens of anti-coup activists to death as part of its crackdown on dissent after it seized power last year, but Myanmar has not carried out an execution in decades .
The junta came under heavy criticism from international powers when it announced its intention to carry out the executions last month.
UN Secretary General António Guterres condemned the junta’s decision, calling it a “flagrant violation of the right to life, liberty and security of person”.
Phyo Zeya Thaw had been accused of orchestrating several attacks on regime forces, including a shooting attack on a commuter train in Yangon in August that killed five police officers. A hip-hop pioneer whose subversive rhymes annoyed the previous junta, he was imprisoned in 2008 for membership in an illegal organization and possession of foreign currency.
He was elected to parliament to represent Aung San Suu Kyi’s NLD in the 2015 elections, which ushered in a transition to civilian rule.
The country’s military alleged voter fraud in the 2020 election – which the NLD won by a landslide – to justify its February 1 coup last year.
Aung San Suu Kyi has been detained since then and faces a host of charges in a junta court that could see her face a prison sentence of more than 150 years.
Kyaw Min Yu, who rose to prominence during Myanmar’s 1988 student uprising against the country’s former military rule, was arrested in an overnight raid in October.