7 June 2022: The planned executions of four people announced by the illegal military junta in Myanmar are a flagrant violation of human rights and the rule of law. The junta leaders and their cronies in their courts should be prosecuted for atrocity crimes in international courts and the junta designated a terrorist organisation, says the Special Advisory Council for Myanmar (SAC-M).
The illegal military junta in Myanmar recently announced that it plans to execute four people, including an elected member of parliament for the National League for Democracy party, Phyo Zeya Thaw, and the prominent pro-democracy activist Kyaw Min Yu, or “Ko Jimmy”.
“The military junta’s announcement that it plans to carry out these executions, which would amount to summary executions, must be globally condemned,” said Yanghee Lee of SAC-M. “All efforts must be made to finally end the atrocities of this military junta in Myanmar and to bring the leaders to justice.”
The four individuals were sentenced to death by a military tribunal acting contrary to international standards of justice and due process. The courts in areas of Myanmar under the control of the military junta are not independent and work only to serve the interests of the junta.
“This military has executed tens of thousands of people over the past 60 years, including thousands of people in the past sixteen months since the attempted coup began,” said Chris Sidoti of SAC-M. “These planned executions are yet another flagrant human rights violation that adds to all those that have gone before and continue today. The junta is attempting to give the appearance of judicial legality to these planned executions but in fact they would continue what has been occurring for 60 years: arbitrary, unlawful killings at the hands of the brutal terrorist military.”
The military junta is committing mass human rights violations and acts of terror as part of a sustained, widespread and systematic attack on the civilian population in response to the nationwide resistance to its attempted coup in February 2021.
The junta’s forces have carried out a months-long campaign of massacre and arson against the resistance in Myanmar’s rural northwest. The same tactics have been used by junta forces against the anti-coup resistance in rural southeast Myanmar, in addition to airstrikes against civilian targets including schools, hospitals and displacement camps. There are now over a million internally displaced people in Myanmar, of whom 700,000 people have been displaced since the attempted coup and subsequent attack began. An estimated 12,000 homes have been burned down. The junta has intentionally deprived those in need of humanitarian assistance, attacked humanitarian workers and destroyed food and medical supplies.
Since the attempted coup began, over 1,800 people including anti-coup protestors and demonstrators have been confirmed killed by junta forces in central Myanmar, in addition to hundreds, perhaps thousands, who have been killed in ethnic minority areas where civil wars are raging. More than ten thousand people are being detained and held in the junta’s jails for opposing the coup. There are credible reports of widespread and systematic torture occurring in the junta’s jails, including reports of the bodies of people detained being returned to family members showing signs of extreme physical torture resulting in death.
“The ‘death sentences’ in this case are mere contrived legal cover for all the acts of violence that are fundamentally legally defined human rights atrocities,” said Marzuki Darusman of SAC-M. “There is no amount of legal gloss that can justify the acts of the junta, which could more accurately be described as an armed criminal gang employing terrorist-style tactics.”
The leaders of the Myanmar military and those who carry out their orders, including judges, should be investigated and prosecuted for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in international courts. Myanmar’s National Unity Government has declared that the International Criminal Court (ICC) has jurisdiction over international crimes committed in Myanmar dating back to 2002. If the Court will not act on the declaration, then States Parties to the Rome Statute and / or the United Nations Security Council must refer the situation in Myanmar to the ICC to initiate proceedings. The Security Council should begin the process of designating the junta a terrorist organisation and impose and enforce a global arms embargo on the junta and economic sanctions against all senior members of the junta and any business owned or controlled by them.