The ruling military junta of Myanmar has executed four prisoners in the first use of capital punishment by the country in more than three decades. Among the men executed are rapper and former lawmaker Phyo Zeya Thaw, as well as the democracy activist Kyaw Min Yu. In January they were sentenced to death following closed trials in which they were accused of conspiring to commit terror acts in the country. Despite the executions already being carried out, and the families of the deceased having the right to their bodies for burial, officials at the prison have refused to hand over the body of Kyaw Min Yu.
The executions follow more than a year of repression and violence in Myanmar after armed forces of the country (officially called the Tatmadaw) detained State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, President Win Myint, as well as other government leaders in order to restore the ruling military junta. Since then, the country has been ruled by Min Aung Hlaing, Myanmar’s Commander-in-chief of the armed forces. Since then, what has followed has been a long series of crimes against humanity to solidify rule over the country. Tactics by the government have included brutal crackdowns on the opposition, arbitrary arrests of those committing acts of protest, torture, sexual violence, and mass killings.
Worse still has been the atrocities committed against Rohingya Muslims that the Myanmar military has been accused of committing. The amount of death, destruction, and systematic attempts to remove the Rohingya Muslims as a people within the country falls well within the definition of genocide based on the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
Given all these widespread acts of violence to keep control over the country, we can likely expect that these won’t be the last executions of opposition figures carried out by the regime.