Data Matters No. 23
(This article is a translation of the original Burmese language version that ISP-Myanmar posted on its Facebook page on June 6, 2022.)
In the aftermath of the military coup between February 1, 2021 and May 31, 2022, a total of 209 people have been sentenced to death or life in prison, as well as a combination of death sentence and life imprisonment in connection with anti-military activities. Of this total, 117 were sentenced to death after their arrest or sentenced to death after warrants issued for them, six were sentenced to life imprisonment and death after their arrest, 86 were sentenced to life in prison after their arrest. Out of 209 who are facing these most severe penalties, 202 are from Yangon Region, accounting for 96.7 percent of the total; the remaining seven are from Ayeyarwady Region, accounting for 3.3 percent of the total. Among those who were sentenced to death after the arrest, two are boys under the age of 18.
In the Yangon Region, North Okkalapa Township had the highest number of death sentences and life imprisonments with 52 individuals on death row, and 12 facing life imprisonment. In Hlaingtharya Township, 17 people were sentenced to death, 30 to life imprisonment and three who are facing both life imprisonment and death sentences. As a result, Hlaingtharya Township has the second highest number sentences involving the death penalty or life imprisonment. On June 2, 2022, the State Administration Council (SAC)’s Deputy Minister of Information announced that they have been planning to execute the death sentences of U Kyaw Min Yu @ Jimmy, U Phyo Zeya Thaw @ Zeya Thaw, U Hla Myo Aung and U Aung Thura Zaw. This marks the first time since the military coup that death row prisoners would be executed by hanging. The international human rights advocates condemned the SAC’s actions and the United Nations, along with the French Embassy in Myanmar, condemned the death penalty, calling for the release of all those arrested in connection with the anti-coup movement.
The international community has been monitoring the human rights situation in Myanmar since the military coup, and has called for an end to all violence and the release of all those opposed to the coup. Amnesty International mentioned in its annual report, published in May, that many of Myanmar’s politicians and anti-military activists were sentenced to death by military tribunal without any rights, including the right to defend themselves.
∎ Why does it matter?
By studying the number of people imprisoned under various laws since the February 2021 military coup, further research can be conducted to examine how the military council is using the judiciary to crack down on dissidents. In addition, by studying the number and frequency of violent arrests and warrants, we can study whether or not the armed forces have committed human rights violations – from the perspective of transitional justice.
∎ Other relevant readings
Independent media and independent organizations such as the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) have monitored and collected detailed data on the number of protesters who were targeted, arrested, and killed during violent crackdowns in the aftermath of the February 1 military coup. They have also documented other issues such as the way SAC’s forces have responded to anti-coup protests, and evidence of human rights and dignity violations by government officials.