Asean 'denounces' execution of 4 activists in Myanmar

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PHNOM PENH (REUTERS) - Asean "denounces and is strongly disappointed by" the Myanmar junta's execution of four activists, Asean chair Cambodia said in a statement on Tuesday (July 26).

The executions went ahead despite appeals by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, in his capacity as Asean Chair, for the sentences to be reconsidered, the statement said.

It said this is an issue the grouping takes seriously.

"The implementation of the death sentences, just a week before the 55th Asean Ministerial Meeting is highly reprehensible," the statement said, adding that it has presented a gross lack of will to support the bloc's peace efforts in the country.

Myanmar's ruling military announced on Monday it had executed the four men who were accused of aiding "terror acts", sparking widespread condemnation of the country's first executions in decades.

In the statement it issued on Tuesday, Cambodia, which heads Asean this year, said it was extremely saddened and deeply troubled by the executions.

The statement said Asean "strongly and urgently called on all parties concerned to desist from taking actions that would only further aggravate the crisis, hinder peaceful dialogue among all parties concerned, and endanger peace, security and stability, not only in Myanmar but the whole region".

Malaysia added to the condemnation of the Myanmar junta’s execution, with its foreign minister saying on Tuesday the Asean member country sees the action as a crime against humanity.  

Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah also told a news conference that  Myanmar should not be allowed to send political representatives to any international ministerial level meetings, and the junta was making a mockery of Asean’s 5-point peace plan.

Singapore Foreign Minister Dr Vivian Balakrishnan wrote in a Facebook post that Asean has denounced the executions of political detainees by the Myanmar military authorities. 

“This is a grave setback for Asean’s efforts to facilitate a peaceful resolution and national reconciliation in Myanmar. We reiterate our call for the release of all political detainees, including President Win Myint and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi,” he wrote. 

“A peaceful resolution of the crisis can only be achieved through constructive dialogue among all parties concerned. Deepest condolences to the families of all victims,” he added. 

Kyaw Min Yu (left) and Phyo Zeyar Thaw, two of the four democracy activists executed by Myanmar's military authorities. PHOTO: REUTERS

Sentenced to death in secretive trials in January and April, the four men were accused of helping a civilian resistance movement that has fought the military since last year's coup and bloody crackdown on nationwide protests.

Among those executed were democracy campaigner Kyaw Min Yu, 53, better known as Jimmy, and former lawmaker and hip-hop artist Phyo Zeya Thaw, 41, an ally of ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The two others executed were Hla Myo Aung and Aung Thura Zaw.

State media said "the punishment has been conducted" but did not say when, or by what method. Previous executions in Myanmar have been by hanging.

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