Myanmar sentences lawmaker from Aung San Suu Kyi’s party to death

Military court finds NLD’s Phyo Zeyar Thaw and activist Kyaw Min Yu guilty under terrorism laws in harshest sentences since coup a year ago.

A member of the Myanmar armed forces, in uniform and armed, patrols a street in Yangon
A former lawmaker from the ruling National League for Democracy has been given the death sentence for alleged attacks on security forces [File: Stringer/EPA]

A closed military court in Myanmar has sentenced a lawmaker from Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party and a prominent democracy activist to death.

The NLD’s Phyo Zeyar Thaw, who was arrested in November, was sentenced to death for offences under the country’s Counterterrorism Law, a statement from the generals said.

Prominent democracy activist Kyaw Min Yu, better known as Ko Jimmy, was given the same sentence, the statement added, providing pictures of both men.

They were found guilty of offences involving explosives, bombings and financing terrorism, but details were sketchy because of the blackout on proceedings. Min Yu’s wife, Nilar Thein, in October denied the allegations lodged against her husband.

Myanmar was plunged into crisis when army chief Min Aung Hlaing deposed the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi and seized power for the military on February 1 last year.

The coup prompted mass protests and a civil disobedience movement, and thousands have been arrested in the military’s attempt to crack down on dissent. Almost 1,500 civilians are estimated to have been killed.

Phyo Zeyar Thaw and Kyaw Min Yu have both been jailed by previous military regimes and are among the most prominent activists to be given death sentences since the coup. Myanmar has not carried out an execution for decades.



Phyo Zeyar Thaw, whose real name is Maung Kyaw, was arrested last November at an apartment in Yangon, the country’s biggest city, following a “tip-off and cooperation from dutiful citizens”, according to the military.

Known as a hip-hop pioneer, Phyo Zeyar Thaw was elected to parliament as part of the country’s move towards democracy in 2015.

The military said he had two pistols, ammunition and an M-16 rifle in his possession at the time of his arrest, and accused him of orchestrating several attacks on security forces.

Kyaw Min Yu, who rose to prominence during Myanmar’s 1988 student uprising was arrested in an overnight raid in October.

Part of the so-called “88 Generation” movement that challenged Myanmar’s previous military rulers, he was accused of inciting unrest with his social media posts.

Aung San Suu Kyi, 76, is facing a slew of charges, including violating the country’s official secrets law.

She has already been sentenced to six years for illegally importing and possessing walkie-talkies, flouting coronavirus rules and incitement against the military.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies