Myanmar military says activist, lawmaker to face death sentence

Activist Kyaw Min Yu and National League for Democracy lawmaker Phyo Zeya Thaw had appeals against sentence rejected.

Myanmar’s military government said that appeals by two prominent democracy activists against their death sentences had been rejected, paving the way for the country’s first executions in decades.

Veteran democracy activist Kyaw Min Yu and Phyo Zeya Thaw, a lawmaker for the former governing National League for Democracy party, were sentenced to death by a military tribunal in January on charges of treason and terrorism, according to a military statement at the time.

A spokesperson for the military government said on Friday that their appeals against the death sentence were rejected.

“Previously, the convicts sentenced to death could appeal and if no decision was made, then their death sentences would not be implemented,” spokesperson Zaw Min Tun told the BBC’s Burmese language service.

“At this time, that appeal was rejected so the death sentences are going to be implemented,” he said.

No details were provided as to when the executions would take place.

Representatives of the two activists could not be reached for comment and it was unclear whether or not the two had denied the charges against them. The military did not mention how the two activists had pleaded.

Though the military has sentenced dozens of anti-coup activists to death as part of its crackdown on dissent after seizing power last year, Myanmar has not carried out an execution for decades.

Phil Robertson, a deputy director at Human Rights Watch, said the decision to “move towards executing two prominent political leaders will be like pouring gasoline on the fire of popular anti-military resistance in the country”.

“Such a move will also lead to global condemnation and cement the junta’s reputation as among the worst of the worst human rights abusers in Asia.”

The Myanmar military has received widespread condemnation abroad for ousting an elected government in a coup more than a year ago, and for the brutal crackdown that it has since unleashed on critics, opposition members and activists.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a new report that the number of people displaced within strife-torn Myanmar has for the first time exceeded one million, with well over half the total losing their homes after the military takeover in 2021.

The report said that more than 694,300 people have become displaced from their homes since the takeover, and an estimated 346,000 people were displaced by fighting before last year’s coup.

Approximately 40,200 people have fled to neighbouring countries and more than 12,700 “civilian properties”, including houses, churches, monasteries and schools are estimated to have been destroyed, according to the UN.

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