Myanmar uses death penalties to ‘crush opposition’, holds proceedings in ‘secretive courts’: UN

Myanmar uses death penalties to ‘crush opposition’, holds proceedings in ‘secretive courts’: UN

Additionally, during this time, the detainees often did not have access to a lawyer or family members.

More than 130 people have been sentenced to death since the Myanmar junta took over last year, said a United Nations official, on Friday, accusing them of using capital punishment to crush the opposition. According to the UN, the junta have sentenced at least seven university students to death taking the total number of people on death row to 139.

“The military continues to hold proceedings in secretive courts in violation of basic principles of fair trial and contrary to core judicial guarantees of independence and impartiality,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Turk. He also said that on Wednesday, a military court sentenced at least seven male students and reportedly at least four more additional death sentences were issued against youth activists in Myanmar.

Furthermore, Myanmar’s military-installed government courts have consistently failed to uphold any degree of transparency contrary to the most basic due process that fair trial guarantees, said Turk. The junta had taken over the country in 2021 after a military coup and ouster of the democratically elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. This move was met with resistance and widespread protests which were quashed after the alleged lethal force used by the country’s military.

According to the UN, nearly 1,700 detainees out of the 16,500 have been arrested, tried and convicted in this secret by ad hoc tribunals which sometimes lasted just a couple of minutes. Additionally, during this time, the detainees often did not have access to a lawyer or family members.

Myanmar uses death penalties to ‘crush opposition’, holds proceedings in ‘secretive courts’: UN
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On the other hand, the Students’ Union of Dagon University in Yangon, in a statement, confirmed that at least seven students aged between 18 and 24 were arrested, earlier this year, and were sentenced to death on Wednesday. They also said that the sentence took place by a military court in Yangon’s Insein prison. “Imposing the death penalty on students is an act of vengeance by the military,” said the students’ union in a statement.

“By resorting to use death sentences as a political tool to crush opposition, the military confirms its disdain for the efforts by ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and the international community at large to end violence and create the conditions for a political dialogue to lead Myanmar out of a human rights crisis created by the military,” said Turk. Referring to the five-point consensus the South-East Asia countries had re-committed to uphold during the ASEAN summit, earlier this month, he added.

Over 11,000 have been detained by the military in a bid to quash dissent in the country, according to a local monitoring group. A member of the union also told the Associated Press, that the seven accused were linked to an urban armed movement who were opposed to the junta rule and were convicted for allegedly shooting a bank manager in April.

So far, over 2,200 civilians have been killed since the military took over, said Duwa Lashi La, the acting president of the National Unity Government (NUG), a civilian government created in opposition to the junta-led rule, told Reuters.

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