Burma Campaign UK is deeply saddened to learn the news that the Burmese military has carried out threats to execute four democracy activists. State media reported today that Ko Jimmy, Phyo Zeya Thaw, Hla Myo Aung and Aung Thura Zaw have been executed.
It has been decades since the Burmese military has carried out executions. The executions are a sign of desperation, not strength by the Burmese military, as they face growing resistance since the attempted coup began last year. The military is hoping they will terrify people into submission. It will not succeed.
“This is a desperately sad day for family and friends of those executed,” said Wai Hnin Pwint Thon, Senior Advocacy Officer at Burma Campaign UK. “I have known Ko Jimmy my whole life, he was an inspiration to me. He dedicated his life to freedom and democracy for the people of Burma.”
These executions demonstrate again the urgent need to increase international pressure on the Burmese military.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss must immediately expel the Burmese military attaché, Captain Soe Aung, who lives in a multi-million-pound home in Wimbledon, South London. A serving member of the Burmese military should not be allowed to live a life of luxury in the UK. He is a threat to the Burmese community in the UK and his presence gives the appearance of legitimacy to the military.
Further practical action Liz Truss must take includes:
- Announcing that the UK will join the Rohingya Genocide case at the International Court of Justice.
- Stepping up the pace of targeted sanctions on sources of revenue and arms to the military.
- Sanctioning supplies of aviation fuel to the military.
- Announcing support for referring Burma to the International Criminal Court.
- Working with allies to put more pressure on countries such as Pakistan, India, China and Russia, which are supplying arms to the Burmese military.
Since the attempted military coup began in February 2021, the British government has adopted the right strategy in applying targeted sanctions to reduce the supply of arms and revenue to the military but not enough resources have been allocated to implement the policy. There are hundreds of known sources of revenue, arms, and members of the military involved in human rights violations which have not been sanctioned. The supply of aviation fuel has not been sanctioned, despite hundreds of thousands of civilians being forced to flee their homes because of airstrikes, creating a humanitarian disaster.
The resumption of the use of executions of political prisoners happens in the context of the Burmese military being unable to consolidate the attempted coup it began last year, and they now face unprecedented resistance across the country.
“The executions are a sign of how weak and desperate the military are, but trying to terrify the people into submission won’t work,” said Wai Hnin Pwint Thon. “It is incredibly frustrating that there are so many practical things the British and other governments can do to stop the flow of money and arms to the Burmese military, but they lack the political will to do it. The people of Burma are paying the price of international inaction with their lives.”