The Myanmar military sentenced 19 protesters to death last weekend. It is known for the first time since the military staged a coup in Myanmar in early February that the death penalty has been used.
The nineteen people were found guilty of theft and murder by a court. Seventeen of them were not physically present at the trial. They were rounded up in North Okkalapa in the east of the Yangon region.
The area is in a state of emergency, which means that anyone arrested there is automatically brought to trial by a military tribunal.
Last execution more than a year ago
Although the death penalty is permitted in Myanmar, the last time someone was executed was more than a year ago. “It shows that the military is ready to return to a time when Myanmar imposed the death penalty on people,” said Phil Robertson of the Asian branch of the human rights organization Human Rights Watch. Because the trial takes place in a military competition, the trial cannot be appealed.
According to Phil, the military’s goal is to deter protesters from taking to the streets and force them to return to work. Due to a national boycott, Myanmar’s economy is currently largely flat.
More than 80 protesters killed
Since the coup d’état on February 1, in which the army also arrested Head of Government Aung San Suu Kyi, there has been unrest in the country. Security forces are said to have around 600 protesters so far. Yesterday alone, more than eighty protesters were said to be in the village of Bago.
United Nations special envoy Christine Schraner Burgener arrived in neighboring Thailand last week. She hopes to enter Myanmar to negotiate with the military to get out of the crisis. Until now she is not allowed to enter the country.