Myanmar: First executions in decades mark atrocious escalation in state repression

25 July 2022

Amnesty International

Responding to reports that Myanmar’s military authorities have carried out executions for the first time since the late 1980s, Amnesty International’s Regional Director Erwin van der Borght said:  

“These executions amount to arbitrary deprivation of lives and are another example of Myanmar’s atrocious human rights record. The four men were convicted by a military court in highly secretive and deeply unfair trials. The international community must act immediately as more than 100 people are believed to be on death row after being convicted in similar proceedings.”  

“For more than a year now, Myanmar’s military authorities have engaged in extrajudicial killings, torture and a whole gamut of human rights violations. The military will only continue to trample on people’s lives if they are not held accountable.”  

“At a time when more and more countries take steps to abolish the death penalty, the resumption of executions after more than three decades not only puts it at odds with the global trend, but is also contrary to the goal of abolition enshrined under international human rights law and standards. Myanmar’s isolation could not be any more glaring. We urge the authorities to immediately establish a moratorium on executions as a first critical step.” 



According to Myanmar state media, four executions have been carried out.  

Phyo Zeya Thaw, a former member of Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy, and prominent democracy activist Kyaw Min Yu, also known as Ko Jimmy, were convicted of and sentenced to death by a military tribunal in January for offenses involving explosives, bombings and financing terrorism under the Anti-Terrorism Law – charges that Amnesty International believes to be politically motivated. Two other men, Hla Myo Aung and Aung Thura Zaw, convicted of the alleged murder of a woman believed to act as an informer for the military in Hlaing Tharyar in Yangon, also had their death sentences confirmed.  

All four were named in the report in state-run newspaper Global New Light of Myanmar. 

The proceedings before a military-controlled court were secretive and grossly unfair.  

Following Myanmar military’s issuance of Martial Law Order 3/2021, the authority to try civilians was transferred to special or existing military tribunals where individuals are tried through summary proceedings without right to appeal. 

These courts oversee a wide range of offences including those punishable with the death penalty. 

Under international law and standards, executions carried out following unfair trials violate the prohibition against arbitrary deprivation of life, as well as the absolute prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment. 

Myanmar’s last known execution was in the late 1980s. Since the military coup in February 2021, Amnesty International has recorded an alarming increase in the resort to the death penalty in Myanmar, where it has become a tool for the military in the ongoing persecution, intimidation and harassment of all who dare to challenge the authorities.  

Amnesty International opposes the death penalty unconditionally, in all cases and under any circumstances. More than two-thirds of countries all over the world have abolished the punishment in law or practice.