UPDATED 9:27 AM PT – Tuesday, July 26, 2022
The Biden administration is looking to put pressure on Myanmar’s military junta. At a press briefing Monday, State Department spokesman Ned Price condemned Myanmar’s government, which has been run by it’s military since a coup in 2021, for executing four pro-democracy activists.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken also issued a statement, calling the actions irreprehensible while claiming it adds to the killing of more than 2,100 residents and 700,000 people displaced from their home country. Both Blinken and Price warned this only shows how far Myanmar’s government is disregarding human rights.
Earlier in the day, the country announced its first set of executions in nearly 50 years. Among the dead include veteran activist Ko Jimmy and former lawmaker Phyo Zeya Thaw who were charged and convicted last month of violating counterterrorism laws. The other two activists were reportedly convicted of killing a woman alleged to be an informant for the military. Some humanitarian organizations have claimed these trials were not conducted fairly.
“The depravity of the Myanmar military junta knows no bounds,” stated Phil Robertson of Human Rights Watch. “These are four political prisoners, they were brought up in front of a military tribunal that was a closed trial. Crimes against humanity is obviously not enough for the Myanmar military junta: now they are engaged in executing prisoners.”
Meanwhile, other activists on the ground are lamenting the military’s increasingly brazen attacks on its civilian population. Some believe troops’ attempts to take out opposition forces are just to cement their power and eliminate any threat to it. Others say these attempts will be counterproductive and will only rally civilians behind the pro-democracy movement.
“There will be more resistance, this will escalate the revolution, including the urban guerrilla fighters,” said Thinzar Shunlei Yi, a Myanmar activist. “There will be more defensive war in different areas. This action is just like a call to war, a call for war to their own people.”
In the meantime, the US State Department is calling on Myanmar’s military to cease further plans to execute civilians and is urging the international community to sanction Myanmar. Cambodia’s prime minister, who chairs the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, has condemned Myanmar’s behavior and is looking to solve the political crisis in Myanmar at a regional level.