among the four prisoners killed, a rapper and a historical rival

Burma’s junta has executed four prisoners, including a former Aung San Suu Kyi party MP and hip-hop star, state media said on Monday, as the death penalty has not been practiced in the country for decades. By eliminating popular opponents, military power is locking itself in a bloody rush, which may betray a weakness in the regime. To analyze.

It was a turning point in the conflict that pitted the military in power in Rangoon for 18 months against an armed civilian resistance. Burmese junta killed four prisoners, including a rapper, former pro-democracy MP from the party Aung San Suu Kyi, and another prominent opponent, the junta has not been brought out for 30 years. July state media.

The Burmese are divided between “sadness and anger”, reports Cyril Payen, senior correspondent of France 24, former correspondent for Southeast Asia.

Kyaw Min Yu, 53, known as “Jimmy”, is a writer and longtime opponent of the military, best known for his role in the 1988 student uprising against the then junta. He was arrested in October and convicted in January.

Phyo Zeya Thaw, 41, a former member of the National League for Democracy (NLD), was arrested in November and convicted in January of violating the anti-terrorism law. This pioneer of hip-hop in Burma, whose lyrics criticized the army in the early 2000s, was imprisoned in 2008 for belonging to an illegal organization and having foreign currency.

“Resisting Trauma”

Some Burmese wonder if the junta would dare to go so far as to kill two prominent opponents, explained RFI’s correspondent in Rangoon, Juliette Verlin, to France 24.

“And yet, the news of their murder is no surprise to anyone,” the journalist said. Phyo Zeya Thaw and Kyaw Min Yu were symbols of the struggle for democracy – and very popular – their elimination was analyzed by many observers as a way of “traumatizing the resistance”, Juliette Verlin has it.

The authorities continued – on purpose – the ambiguity surrounding their fate, believes Cyril Payen. “Last week, the authorities refused to carry out these executions. A communication that shows the perversity of the junta”, he added.

The four were convicted of “brutal and inhuman acts of terror” and their executions followed “prison procedures”, Myanmar’s state-run Global New Light said on Monday, without specifying how or when. a they were killed.

“No limit”

But everything suggests that the murders took place over the weekend, reports the English-language antenna of France 24 Han Htoo Khant Paint, friend of Kyaw Min Yu, the opponent and writer who was killed. This Burmese pro-democracy activist and researcher now lives in Berlin, where he found refuge six months ago.

On Friday, those killed contacted their families via Zoom, Han Htoo Khant Paint reported. They may not have known that they were living their last moments there: Phyo Zeya Thaw, the Burmese hip-hop star, even asked his family to send “eyeglasses, as well as a dictionary” , the researcher reported.

Their killing is proof to the international community that “the junta knows no limits when it comes to staying in power”, concluded the pro-democracy activist.

These killings, followed by many official condemnations, from Washington to Tokyo, dangerously emphasized the international isolation of the Burmese soldiers. The latter seized power by force of 1er February 2021, under the pretext of alleged fraud in last year’s election, which was won by Aung San Suu Kyi’s NLD.

“These evil acts must mark a turning point for the international community. (…) The status quo of international inaction must be firmly rejected”, reacted on Twitter Tom Andrews, United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in Burma. .

Fighting a civil war, the general at the head of the coup, Min Aung Hlaing, is currently partially “locked”, estimated Cyril Payen, who noted during the soldier’s trip to Moscow in July the confession of a weakness. Along with China, Russia represents one of the backers of a “junta that cannot become more isolated”.

First show in a long series?

According to Cyril Payen, by killing opponents, power also shows a certain fever: “The Burmese army is on the hot seat. In a year and a half, the People’s Defense Forces (PDF) rose to all four corners of Burma and increased the blows against all the apparatchiks of power.”

However, one question upsets the spirits of Burma, observes the RFI reporter, Juliette Verlin: “And if these murders are the first of a long series?”

Since the military coup, 115 opponents of the junta have been convicted of terrorism, suggesting more executions.

Thirty years after the last executions, Han Htoo Khant Paint and his militant friends who remain in Burma fear Monday’s hanging is a “disastrous precedent”.

The date of July 25 will remain a symbol for the Burmese, Cyril Payen believes: the killing of two people whose popularity is so great is a mockery of the people.

But where the junta seeks to “intimidate”, it is likely that on the contrary it unites an angry population, which is already determined to overthrow the soldiers, believes Juliette Verlin.

According to him, the news has the danger of “sparking a wave of revenge on the part of the armed resistance”. On Monday, one of these groups fired a grenade launcher at the state television building MRTV, located on a busy street in the capital, the journalist reported.

Through its hard line and violent haste, the junta proved a failure, concludes Cyril Payen: the putschists did not win their bet to bring the population to its knees.

The ruling army has continued a bloody crackdown on its opponents, with more than 2,000 civilians killed and more than 15,000 arrested since the coup on 1er February 2021, according to a local NGO.

He also faces charges of genocide against the Rohingya. In 2017, more than 740,000 members of this Muslim minority hid in makeshift camps in Bangladesh to escape military abuse.

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