The U.S. is condemning the decision of Myanmar’s military regime to execute four pro-democracy leaders and elected officials who were accused of terrorism after a secret trial.
They were the first judicial executions in the country once known as Burma since the military junta took power in February 2021.
The U.S. Embassy in Yangon said Ko Jimmy, Phyo Zeya Thaw, Hla Myo Aung and Aung Thura Zaw were only guilty of “exercising their fundamental freedoms.”
“We join the people of Myanmar in mourning the loss,” embassy officials tweeted.
A junta spokesperson told CNN they were accused of being involved in terrorist acts, such as attacks using explosives and killing government civilian informants. They were sentenced to death in January after their appeals were denied in June, according to CNN.
The United Nations also condemned the execution of the pro-democracy activists. In a statement released Monday, Tom Andrews, the U.N.’s rapporteur on Myanmar, said he was “outraged and devastated” at the news, calling the victims “patriots and champions of human rights and democracy.”
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“These individuals were tried, convicted, and sentenced by a military tribunal without the right of appeal and reportedly without legal counsel, in violation of international human rights law,” Mr. Andrews said. “These depraved acts must be a turning point for the international community. What more must the junta do before the international community is willing to take strong action?”
Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the executions were an element of the military regime’s plan to tamp down the growing anti-coup protest movement in Myanmar.
“European Union member states, the United States, and other governments should show the junta that there will be a reckoning for its crimes,” Elaine Pearson, HRW’s acting Asia director, said in a statement.