MYANMAR: TWO PROMINENT ACTIVISTS SENTENCED TO DEATH
January 24, 2022:
Two prominent political activists in military-ruled Myanmar have been sentenced to death on suspicion of being involved in terrorist activities, a military television station reported 21 January 2022. (Source: AP, 21/01/2022)
Myawaddy TV said in a news broadcast that evening that Kyaw Min Yu, also known as Ko Jimmy, and Phyo Zeyar Thaw, also known as Maung Kyaw, were convicted under the national counterterrorism law. They were convicted of crimes, including explosives, bombing, and terrorist financing.
Both have been detained since their arrest, unable to comment on the allegations, and no lawyer appeared to comment on their behalf. Min Yu’s wife, Nyler Tain, denied the allegations filed against her husband in October.
Details of their proceedings were not available as the proceedings were filed in a closed military court. It was unclear if the two cases were related.
The two are one of the most prominent activists sentenced to death since the military seized power from the Aung San Suu Kyi elected government last February.
The hijacking triggered a large and popular protest, which has since turned into a low-level rebellion after nonviolent protests have encountered deadly forces by security forces. It is estimated that about 1,500 civilians were killed and more than 11,000 were arrested for political crimes.
Some resistance factions are engaged in assassinations, drive-by shootings, and bombing in urban areas. Mainstream opposition organizations generally deny such activities and support armed resistance in rural areas, which are often the target of brutal military attacks.
Kyaw Min Yu is one of the leaders of the 88th Generation Student Group, a popular uprising veteran who was unable to seize the position of the previous military junta.
Since then, he has been politically active and has spent more than 12 years behind the bar. His October 23 arrest in Yangon was originally reported by his wife, an activist who had been imprisoned in the past. Both were hidden after the February acquisition, but she is believed to be still hidden.
Two weeks after his arrest, a statement from the military-installed government accused Kyaw Min Yu of “conducting terrorism acts including mine attacks to undermine the state stability,” and alleged that he headed a group called “Moon Light Operation” to carry out urban guerrilla attacks.
He had already been on the wanted list for social media postings that allegedly incited unrest.
Phyo Zeyar Thaw is a former member of Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy. He was a hip-hop musician before becoming a member of Generation Wave, a political movement formed in 2007.
He was arrested on 18 November with weapons and ammunition, according to a statement from the ruling party at the time.
The statement also stated that he was arrested based on information from those arrested the day before for carrying out a security guard shooting.
Other statements from the military accused him of being a key figure in a network of dozens of people allegedly carrying out what the military described as a “terrorist” attack in Yangon.