25 July 2022: The summary executions of political prisoners are further abhorrent acts of terror by a military junta desperately trying to ensure its own survival. The United Nations (UN) and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) must stop shamefully failing the Myanmar people and finally take concerted action against the junta, says the Special Advisory Council for Myanmar (SAC-M).
Myanmar military propaganda reported today that democracy activists Kyaw Min Yu, also known as “Ko Jimmy,” and Phyo Zeya Thaw, also a former member of parliament, as well as two other men, Hla Myo Aung and Aung Thura Zaw, were executed in prison. The military first announced its plans to carry out the executions in June 2022.
The four individuals were sentenced to death by a military tribunal acting contrary to international standards of justice and due process. The courts in Myanmar under the control of the military junta are not independent and work only to serve the interests of the junta.
“The military has been executing Myanmar people in their thousands for the last 60 years and these are but the latest,” said Chris Sidoti of SAC-M. “What makes these executions especially revolting, however, is the military’s blatant attempt to give them the appearance of judicial legitimacy, though the military court was a sham, a mockery of justice, fairness and due process. No one is fooled.”
The Myanmar military has been losing ground to the democratic resistance since it launched a failed coup eighteen months ago. The junta is detaining at least 11,759 political prisoners in its jails without access to legal representation, including many of the 114 people it has sentenced to death since February 2021. 41 people have been sentenced to death in absentia. Multiple, credible reports have been made of systematic torture, sometimes resulting in death, occurring in military detention.
Across the country the junta is committing further massive human rights violations in an attempt to crush democratic resistance, but it is unable to defeat the national uprising revolting against Myanmar’s long-established military-dominated system.
“The military junta is acting with total barbarism. The despicable execution of these four men – that amount to summary executions – are intended entirely to drive fear into the hearts of anyone opposing the junta. That is an act of terror by any UN definition,” said Marzuki Darusman of SAC-M. “The junta is a massive militarised force that is waging war against the civilian population of Myanmar and is therefore primary accountable for the highest degree of violence currently prevailing, which these executions are the most manifest. The junta fails to understand that every act of brutality is only strengthening the resolve of the entire nation against it.”
The international community has failed shamefully to protect the Myanmar people from the junta’s extreme and escalating violence. UN Member States have been slow to grant formal recognition to the National Unity Government of Myanmar (NUG). The UN Security Council is yet to even table a single resolution on Myanmar, despite the gravity of the situation and the threat to international peace and security.
The ASEAN Five-Point Consensus agreed with junta leader Min Aung Hlaing in April 2021 is a failure with the junta making no progress towards its implementation. Current ASEAN Chair, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, wrote publicly to Min Aung Hlaing requesting that he refrain from carrying out the planned executions. By going ahead with them, Min Aung Hlaing has demonstrated that no one has the diplomatic leverage to curb his atrocities.
“It is long past time for a new approach to Myanmar’s crisis,” said Yanghee Lee of SAC-M. “The international failure of the Myanmar people cannot continue. Min Aung Hlaing and his illegal barbaric junta are not people that can be reasoned with. The UN and ASEAN must exert as much pressure on the junta as possible to bring this crisis to an end.”
SAC-M is calling for all UN Member States to formally recognise the NUG. The UN Security Council should pass a resolution on Myanmar referring the situation to the International Criminal Court (ICC). States parties to the Rome Statute of the ICC should also refer the situation in Myanmar to the Court. If the ICC cannot act, then the General Assembly or the Human Rights Council should establish a special tribunal on Myanmar to begin the prosecutorial process and bring Min Aung Hlaing, the junta leaders and their cronies to justice.
SAC-M calls on ASEAN to maintain permanently its rejection of Min Aung Hlaing and the military junta from participation in ASEAN meetings as a consequence of its abrogation of the Five-Point Consensus and contempt for the efforts of successive ASEAN Chairs. SAC-M calls on ASEAN to work with the NUG to develop a new roadmap towards resolving the crisis, beginning with the urgent provision of cross-border humanitarian assistance.