TE24 International Desk:
Myanmar’s Southeast Asian neighbors on Tuesday accused the ruling army of executing four political activists, saying they were “grossly culpable” and had undermined regional efforts to defuse the crisis.
Just a week before Brock’s next meeting, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), including Myanmar, said it was “extremely concerned and deeply saddened by the death penalty.”
“The complexity of the crisis is well known and there is a sense of extreme bellicose mood across Myanmar, but ASEAN as a whole seeks maximum restraint,” said Cambodia, ASEAN’s leader this year. Stating “It is highly deplorable that the execution was carried out just a week before the 55th ASEAN Ministerial Conference,” he said.
The junta is “significant” for supporting the UN-backed ASEAN peace programme. He added that this indicated a lack of will. The army, which seized power in a coup last year, announced in state media on Monday that it had executed activists for supporting “terrorist attacks” by the civilian resistance movement, the first executions in Myanmar in decades.
The news sparked international outrage, with senior officials from the United States, Great Britain, Australia, the European Union and the United Nations accusing the junta of atrocities. It is not clear when the execution was carried out or what method was used.
The family said Monday that they were not informed in advance of their loved one’s execution and were not allowed to retrieve their bodies. More than 100 people have been executed, activists say.
He has been sentenced to death in secret trials by military courts since the coup. Human rights groups said on Tuesday they had beefed up prison security in the largest city of Yangon, where the four were detained, following global protests and inmate demonstrations against the death penalty.
Prisoner support group sources said there were protests at the prison. News portal Myanmar Now said some of the prisoners were assaulted by prison authorities and about 15 of them were separated from the general public.
Lin Tanto, the head of Myanmar’s national shadow government, said his sources confirmed that riots also took place at a prison in the city of Mandalay where the shooting took place. A spokesman for Insein Prison and Correctional Facility in Yangon did not return calls from Reuters.
The junta has yet to respond to international criticism, but has previously accused the United Nations and Western powers of meddling in the matter. His spokesman was scheduled to hold a regular press conference late Tuesday night.
Tom Andrews, UN special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, said he was concerned about the increase in the number of executions. He said at least 140 people have been sentenced to death in Myanmar.
“And everything shows that the junta wants to execute death row prisoners while bombing villages across the country and arresting innocent people,” he said in an interview on Monday.
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