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UN human rights chief condemns Myanmar executions, calls for release of all political prisoners

The UN human rights chief on Monday condemned in the strongest terms the execution of four democracy activists by Myanmar’s military despite repeated calls by the United Nations and the international community to desist from carrying out death sentences.

“I am dismayed that despite appeals from across the world, the military conducted these executions with no regard for human rights,” Michelle Bachelet said.

“This cruel and regressive step is an extension of the military’s ongoing repressive campaign against its own people.”

On Monday, Myanmar state media reported that the military had executed four people, including former National League for Democracy (NLD) lawmaker Phyo Zeya Thaw and democracy activist Kyaw Min Yu, popularly known as Ko Jimmy.

After being arrested last fall, Ko Jimmy and Phyo Zaya Thaw were charged under counter-terrorism law and sentenced to death on Jan. 21.

Their appeals were denied. The two others executed Monday, Hla Myo Aung and Aung Thura Zaw, were convicted on murder charges, with appeals also rejected.

Bachelet said the executions were Myanmar’s first in decades and “are cruel violations” of a person’s rights to life, liberty, safety, and a fair trial.

She called for the immediate release of all political prisoners and others arbitrarily detained, urging the reinstatement of Myanmar’s de facto death penalty moratorium.

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