July 26, 2022

Statement on the State Executions of Myanmar Activists

It is a disappointing start to the week for democracy in Southeast Asia with the disgusting and appalling news out of Myanmar, where the military junta has carried out the execution of four pro-democracy activists.

The four men executed by the military junta were activist Kyaw Min Yu, former NLD MP Phyo Zeya Thaw, Hla Myo Aung, and Aung Thura Zaw. These four men are a part of a group of 117 people sentenced to death for their role in anti-coup and student activism since the junta seized power.

These four were denied visitation by their families, subjected to closed-door trials, and details were withheld concerning the method and time of their executions.
Their families have even been denied the bodies of their loved ones and traditional funeral rites. These were the first capital punishments carried out in Myanmar for nearly 50 years.

The use of such draconian practices is not only a backslide for democracy in Myanmar, but an embarrassing pandering to the colonial vestiges of their former masters.
Even holding those sentenced to death at the old colonial-era prison, Insein, is a further betrayal of the strides the nation has tried to make since independence.

And then to convict them of the generic crime of ‘terrorist acts’ without evidence or a fair trial is utterly despicable, making them no better than those who seek to deny the progress out region has made in the last half century.

This military junta is antithetical to the spirit of democracy, respect for human rights and dignity, and the inculcation of Asian tradition and values that binds out continent together as a neighbourhood community and upon which the basis for ASEAN has stood throughout its history.

While I urge the international community to denounce with me this heinous act of state murder, we of ASEAN and in the spirit of regional and international cohesion must make clear to the authoritarian military regime in Myanmar that such actions along with the deprivation of the people’s rights are unacceptable.

Where our world remains ravaged by the trauma of pandemic and where economic catastrophe looms on all our doorsteps, such blatant wrongs cannot be overlooked and threaten not just the freedom of some, but the freedom of us all and any hope for a restoration of the balance needed to insure all our recovery and, God-willing, prosperity into the future.


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