Myanmar: Seven university students sentenced to death by military court

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At least seven university students in Myanmar have been sentenced to death on Wednesday in a secret trial conducted by a military court, the UN human rights office said.

The military courts have sentenced more than 130 people to death behind closed doors since last year’s coup, the UN human rights chief said on Friday after the announcement of the latest convictions this week.

UN Human Rights High Commissioner Volker Türk said Myanmar’s 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.

“Military courts have consistently failed to uphold any degree of transparency contrary to the most basic due process or fair trial guarantees,” he said, calling for the suspension of all executions and a return to a moratorium on death penalty.

Reports on Thursday (1 Dec) revealed that as many as four additional death sentences were being issued against youth activists.

The UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) is currently seeking clarification on these cases.

In July, the military carried out four state executions – the first in approximately 30 years.

A former lawmaker, a democracy activist, and two others, were put to death, despite calls from the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the international community to desist.

Close to 1,700 detainees out of the nearly 16,500 who have been arrested for opposing last year’s military’s coup have been tried and convicted in secret by ad hoc tribunals, sometimes lasting just minutes.

They have frequently been denied access to lawyers or their families and none have been acquitted.

The latest convictions would bring the total number of people sentenced to capital punishment since 1 February 2021 to 139 individuals.

Mr. Türk reminded that the military’s actions are not in keeping with the ASEAN peace plan, known as the five-point consensus – that includes the “immediate cessation of violence in Myanmar” – which the regional bloc had re-committed to upholding last month during the ASEAN summit.

At the summit, Secretary-General António Guterres had warned that the political, security, human rights and humanitarian situation in Myanmar was “sliding ever deeper into catastrophe”, condemning the escalating violence, disproportionate use of force, and appalling human rights situation in the country.

“By resorting to use death sentences as a political tool to crush opposition, the military confirms its disdain for the efforts by ASEAN 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,” the UN human rights chief said. (Source: UN News)

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