UN says Myanmar sentences 7 students to death

UN says Myanmar sentences 7 students to death

In this file photo taken on Feb 25, 2021, protesters hold the Myanmar Student Union flag as they demonstrate against the military coup in the Yangon University compound. - The Myanmar junta handed out at least seven more death sentences this week, taking the tally of those on death row to 139, according to the United Nations. (Photo by AFP)
In this file photo taken on Feb 25, 2021, protesters hold the Myanmar Student Union flag as they demonstrate against the military coup in the Yangon University compound. - The Myanmar junta handed out at least seven more death sentences this week, taking the tally of those on death row to 139, according to the United Nations. (Photo by AFP)

The Myanmar junta handed out at least seven more death sentences this week, taking the tally of those on death row to 139, according to the United Nations.

A junta spokesperson did not respond to calls from outside Myanmar seeking confirmation of the latest death sentences. The United Nations accused it of using capital punishment as a "tool to crush opposition".

Myanmar has been in chaos since Aung San Suu Kyi's civilian government was toppled in a military coup in February 2021, ending the southeast Asian nation's brief period of democracy.

At least seven male university students were sentenced to death by a military court behind closed doors on Wednesday, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk said in a statement.

"By resorting to use death sentences as a political tool to crush opposition, the military confirms its disdain for the efforts by ASEAN and the international community at large to end violence and create the conditions for a political dialogue to lead Myanmar out of a human rights crisis created by the military," Turk said.

Local media reports said the Yangon-based university students were arrested in April and accused of involvement in a bank shooting.

"Imposing the death penalty on students is an act of vengeance by the military," Dagon University's student union said in a statement.

The United Nations is also investigating reports another four youth activists were also sentenced to death on Thursday.

"The military continues to hold proceedings in secretive courts in violation of basic principles of fair trial and contrary to core judicial guarantees of independence and impartiality," Turk said.

He said the secret tribunal hearings sometimes last just minutes and those detained often don't have access to lawyers or their families.

Scores of Myanmar social media users took to Facebook and Twitter to protest against the death penalties under hashtags such as "StopExecuteOurStudents".

The latest death sentences follow July's executions of four prisoners that included former lawmaker Phyo Zeya Thaw and democracy activist Kyaw Min Yu -- better known as "Jimmy".

It was the first use of the death penalty by the Myanmar state in around 30 years and sparked worldwide condemnation.

The Association of South East Asian Nations, which has spearheaded so far fruitless efforts to restore peace to Myanmar, warned the junta in August against carrying out further executions.

Close to 2,280 civilians have been killed and 11,637 are still detained as part of the military junta's campaign to stamp out dissent, according to a local monitoring group.


Do you like the content of this article?
COMMENT (5)

EC to choose from 3 electoral maps

At least three draft electoral maps will be drawn and put up for public input before the Election Commission (EC) makes its pick and finalises constituency designation work ahead of the next poll, according to a source at the EC.

09:00

Firm backs down in island land row

SATUN: A company at the centre of an encroachment row has agreed to remove a fence blocking access to a school on Koh Lipe by Feb 7, marking headway in settling several such disputes on the popular island.

08:04

Thai stock investors urged to be careful

As the Thai stock market has recovered rapidly over the past month in light of the improving economic picture, there are still some risk factors for shares in 2023 that investors should be aware of, analysts warn.

07:03