Pleas for help as Myanmar awaits high-profile executions | Inquirer News

Pleas for help as Myanmar awaits high-profile executions

/ 11:06 AM June 19, 2022
Pleas for help as Myanmar awaits high-profile executions

Kyaw Min Yu (2nd R), released from Taunggyi prison, and his wife Nilar Thein (4th R), released from Thar Yar Waddi prison, carry their daughter as they arrive in Yangon domestic airport in Yangon, Myanmar January 13, 2012. Jimmy and Nilar are both activists from the 88 Generation Students Group. REUTERS FILE PHOTO

The wife of pro-democracy figure Kyaw Min Yu, sentenced to be executed on the orders of Myanmar’s ruling generals, says that if her husband dies he will take with him the beliefs he has carried throughout a life spent fighting dictatorship.

Kyaw Min Yu, better known as Jimmy, and former lawmaker and hip-hop artist Phyo Zeya Thaw are set to be the first people since 1988 to be executed judicially in Myanmar.


They were sentenced to death in January for treason and terrorism in a closed-doors trial, accused of helping militias to fight the army that seized power last year and unleashed a bloody crackdown on its opponents.

The military has not said when they would be hanged, but speculation is rife in Myanmar that the executions are imminent.


The planned executions have been strongly condemned abroad and two U.N. experts have called them a “vile attempt at instilling fear” among the people.

Kyaw Min Yu’s wife, Nilar Thein, said her husband, a political prisoner for 18 years under Myanmar’s last military dictatorship, was being made an example of for refusing to cooperate with his captors.

“He would never trade his political beliefs with anything. He will continue to stand by his beliefs,” Nilar Thein, who is in hiding, told Reuters by phone.

“Ko Jimmy will continue to live in our hearts.”

Kyaw Min Yu, 53, and Phyo Zeya Thaw, a 41-year-old ally of ousted Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi, lost their appeal earlier this month.

It is not clear how they pleaded in their trial, nor the extent of their alleged involvement in the resistance movement, which is fighting what it calls a “people’s defensive war” against the junta.

Asked if Kyaw Min Yu was involved, his wife said she would not acknowledge the military’s portrayal of him, but said the whole country was involved in a revolt, against the generals’ “terrorist acts”.


‘Systematic attack’

Several foreign governments, including the United States and France, and rights groups have fiercely criticised the planned executions.

“The world must not lose sight of the fact that these death sentences are being meted out in the context of the military murdering civilians nearly every day in its widespread and systematic attack on the people of Myanmar,” said Tom Andrews, U.N. Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, and Morris Tidball-Binz, U.N. Special Rapporteur on extra-judicial summary or arbitrary executions.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch said it has documented 114 people sentenced to death in Myanmar since the February 2021 coup, in what it called secretive tribunals with “lightning convictions” aimed to chill dissent.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), appealed in a letter this month to junta leader Min Aung Hlaing not to carry out the executions, relaying deep concern among Myanmar’s neighbors.

The junta has signalled it will not back down and has called Western criticism “reckless and interfering”.

On Thursday, its spokesperson said the sentence was appropriate.

“Required actions are needed to be done in the required moments,” Zaw Min Tun told a news conference.

Phyo Zeya Thaw’s wife said the two men were targeted because of their status among a youth movement that held months of anti-coup demonstrations last year. She said the decision to resume executions would be a test of international support for the opposition, and appealed for foreign intervention.

“The junta is trying to kill the revolution,” Thazin Nyunt Aung told Reuters by phone from an undisclosed location.

“We have been fighting this revolution with the mindset that we have nothing but ourselves. Now, we have started to question whether we have the world with us or not,” she said.


Myanmar’s post-coup civilian death toll climbs past 700

Biden administration rules Myanmar army committed genocide against Rohingya

‘Shoot ’til they are dead’: Some Myanmar police fled to India after refusing orders

Myanmar junta, ousted government fight for recognition at top U.N. court

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

Read Next
Don't miss out on the latest news and information.

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

TAGS: executions, military junta, Myanmar
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.
Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

© Copyright 1997-2023 | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.