Myanmar’s Military Regime Executes Four Pro-Democracy Activists

On July 23rd, the Tatmadaw hanged four Burmese activists with extensive histories of opposing said military regime and objecting to the establishment of military rule in Myanmar. The activists were sentenced to death in private trials held in military court and did not receive legal counsel.

According to Amnesty International, Kyaw Min Yu, Phyo Zeya Thaw, Hla Myo Aung, and Aung Thura Zaw were tried and charged under the guise of an anti-terrorism law which claimed that they had engaged in “brutal and inhumane terror acts,” including the use of explosives, bombings, and the financing of terrorism.

The United Nations has condemned the executions as direct violations of international human rights law and called on its leaders, General Min Aung Hlaing and the military junta, to release all political prisoners or face devastating consequences. Furthermore, the bloc has called on its members to take action and prevent the Tatmadaw from further killings.

“The status quo of international inaction must be firmly rejected,” United Nations News wrote, quoting Thomas Andrews, a leading expert on Myanmar’s history and politics.

After the civilian National League for Democracy party defeated the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party in the 2020 elections, the Tatmadaw staged a coup. Widespread protests began as soon as the regime took power on February 1st, 2021, and the military government responded with live fire, rubber bullets, and water cannons, according to the B.B.C. Continuous violence has persisted since then, the executions being only the most recent of a series of human rights violations.

United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Bangkok early in July, where he reportedly discussed the situation in Myanmar and strongly condemned the government for its mistreatment of their own people. Since the executions, Blinken has advocated to the United States to support the people of Myanmar, calling the executions reprehensible attempts to extinguish democracy.

The junta will not stop violently repressing civil objection to its rule without a fight. In fact, Al Jazeera reports that the junta is using that civil objection to seize power. After declaring a state of emergency with which to justify its power grab and oppressions of civil liberties, the military government has since extended it, claiming that it is necessary in order to gain stability in the nation. This situation is dire. Unless states who claim to support Myanmar take action, the Burmese people will continue to struggle under persecution.

Britt Gronmeyer