By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
YANGON, MYANMAR (Worthy News) – Myanmar’s ruling military confirmed Monday that it had executed four pro-democracy activists as part of a broader crackdown that also targeted Christian minorities.
Among those executed were democracy campaigner Kyaw Min Yu, better known as Jimmy, and former lawmaker and hip-hop artist Phyo Zeya Thaw, authorities said.
Kyaw Min Yu, 53, and Phyo Zeya Thaw, a 41-year-old ally of ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi, lost their appeals against the sentences in June. The two others were identified as Hla Myo Aung and Aung Thura Zaw.
The announced executions were the first in the Southeast Asian nation in more than three decades.
They were executed in secret on Saturday for what the regime called “brutal and inhumane terror acts,” charges that their defenders have said were unfounded.
The four were sentenced to death earlier this year during closed-door trials in a military court without attorneys present, several sources said.
Rights watchers saw the killings in Myanmar, also known as Burma, as another effort to instill fear in a resistance movement that has continued to battle the junta since it seized power in a coup last year.
“These executions amount to arbitrary deprivation of lives and are another example of Myanmar’s atrocious human rights record,” said Erwin Van Der Borght, regional director of rights group Amnesty International.
“A military court convicted the four men in highly secretive and deeply unfair trials.”
Thazin Nyunt Aung, the wife of Phyo Zeyar Thaw, reportedly said that prison officials had not let the families retrieve the bodies. The men had been held in the colonial-era Insein prison, and a person with knowledge of the events told the Reuters news agency that their families visited it last Friday.
Only one relative was allowed to speak to the detainees via an online platform, the source added. The executions were due to raise further concerns among predominantly Christian communities whose village homes and churches were attacked by the Myanmar army.
Thousands have been displaced, and many fled to neighboring Thailand as the mainly Buddhist army seeks to consolidate its power.
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