The Burmese junta renews with the executions of opponents


The junta no longer hopes to win hearts. A year and a half after the February 1, 2021 coup, the Burmese military is still struggling to impose their power. In a country in massive rebellion, fear and bloody repression remain. In total, more than 2,000 civilians were killed and more than 15,000 arrested, but the generals decided to cross a further threshold in horror and reprisals. On Monday, four political opponents, including a National League for Democracy MP, were executed after a conviction in January for “brutal and inhumane acts of terror”according to Global New Light of Myanmar, that is, the planning and organization of attacks against the junta. On June 4, the government clarified that their appeal had been rejected, a decision calling for the hanging.

“This is the latest affront in a long list of violations. The response must be quick and forceful. International inaction and complicity must end”, reacted the secretary general of Amnesty International, Agnès Callamard, on Twitter. The silence of the so-called « international community » was also denounced by the United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in Burma, Tom Andrews. These executions are also an affront to the countries that have imposed sanctions on the Burmese army. They come in fact five days after the effective withdrawal of TotalEnergies from the Yadana gas project which, despite the posting, amounts to increasing the participation, and therefore the income, of the Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (Moge), controlled by the junta. The French group could have placed its shares or property rights « in trust or in receivership » so that the revenues do not benefit the army, notes Human Rights Watch.

the desire to set an example

Capital punishment had not been applied in Burma for three decades. The return of this practice signals the desire to set an example by executing opponents known to all. This is the case of rapper and parliamentarian Zayar Thaw, 41, imprisoned from 2008 to 2011 and famous for his graffiti castigating the army. The writer Ko Jimmy is another figure in the protest. Student leader at the time of the great movement of 1988, he had also spent fifteen years behind bars. Since the generals’ coup, dozens of opponents have been sentenced to death.

This is one of the last cards of the junta, which hoped to quickly subdue the resistance and gain legitimacy. The army has long considered itself to be the only institution capable of achieving the unity of the country while relying, for decades, on national divisions and the strength of the majority Bamar group. The junction between the militants operating in urban areas and the old ethnic and rural guerrillas, under the leadership of the government of national unity, however took the generals by surprise. Failing to win hearts, they will have achieved the unity of the country against military rule.


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