[STATEMENT] ACTIVISM IS NOT A CRIME, YET EXECUTION IS: Call for Release of All Prisoners of Conscience
Posted on July 27, 2022
Category: Article

We, BEBESEA, condemn the executions by the illegitimate government against pro-democracy leaders and an elected legislator for exercising their political rights as their fundamental freedom and rights. These executions were reported by the junta-controlled media Global New Light of Myanmar on July 25th 2022. The former legislator; Phyo Zeya Thaw, democracy activists; Kyaw Min Yu and Hia Myo Aung, and Aung Thura Zae were reportedly accused of committing terror acts and charged under the Counterterrorism Law of 2014 and the Penal Code. We are also extremely concerned about 41 prisoners who are said to be executed, including 3 people who have already been executed according to the report on Delta News Agency on July 27th.

They were imprisoned and executed because of their political views that they expressed democratically. This made them prisoners of conscience, some of whom were consequently executed. Activism is not a crime while these executions are. 

We call the international community to further investigate these state murders and for releses of all prisoners of conscience in Myanmar. We join the people of Myanmar in mourning for former legislator and democracy activists Phyo Zeya Thaw, Kyaw Min Yu, Hia Myo Aung, Aung Thura Zaw and those who are yet to be identified.

According to the press release by OHCHR on July 25th, since the military coup on February 1st 2021, 117 people, including two children, have been sentenced to death including 41 sentenced in absentia. Over 11,500 people remain in detention for opposing the military’s seizure of power (OHCHR, 2022)

Death penalty is an act against and automate denial of the right to life. Despite it is a violation to a fundamental human rights norm, death penalty is commonly practiced in the Asia-Pacific region. On the same day a joint statement of the EU, Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, the UK and the US strongly condemning the executions in Myanmar on July 26th, a man convicted of killing seven people was executed in Japan making it the country’s 47th execution in the last 10 years. 

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) clearly states that everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person (Article 3); no one should be to be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile (Article 9); everyone has the right to freedom of thoughts, conscience and religion (Article 18), to freedom of opinions and expression (Article 19), and to freedom of peaceful assembly and association (Article 20). The right to life is also guaranteed under a number of international legal instruments, ranging from UDHR, the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and the Convention against Torture (CAT).

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