International condemnation after Myanmar executes activists | Human Rights News

Worldwide condemnation has grown within the wake of an announcement from Myanmar’s military-led authorities that it had executed four pro-democracy activists – the nation’s first recognized executions in many years.

The US embassy in Yangon stated on Monday outstanding activist 53-year-old Kyaw Min Yu and former legislator 41-year-old Phyo Zeya Thaw, in addition to protesters Hla Myo Aung and Aung Thura Zar, had been executed for “exercising their basic freedoms”.

In a press release, the international ministry of Japan, which had for many years maintained shut ties with Myanmar which have frayed in latest months, stated it “severely deplores” the executions and warned the act will additional isolate the military-led authorities, which has already confronted a raft of sanctions from Western powers since taking management in a February 2021 coup and arresting State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi.

Even China, which has reportedly sought to guard its longtime ally on the United Nations, known as on officers to correctly resolve conflicts inside the nation’s constitutional framework, with international ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian additionally reiterating Beijing’s longheld precept of non-interference.

For its half, Myanmar’s army has maintained the executed males had helped to hold out “brutal and inhumane terror acts”, the World New Mild of Myanmar newspaper stated. It didn’t specify how the 4 had been killed. The military-led authorities later confirmed the scenario “is as said within the state media”.

Phyo Zeya Thaw, a former legislator from Suu Kyi’s Nationwide League for Democracy (NLD)m had been arrested in November and sentenced to demise in January for offences beneath anti-terrorism legal guidelines. Democracy activist Kyaw Min Yu – higher often called “Jimmy” – additionally acquired the identical sentence from the army tribunal. Each males had lost appeals towards the sentences in June.

Much less is thought about Hla Myo Aung and Aung Thura Zar, who had been convicted in April of allegedly killing a lady accused of being an informant for the army.

An official on the Help Affiliation of Political Prisoners (AAPP), an activist group, has stated each males had been from Yangon and had been concerned in protests and resistance actions because the army takeover.

United Nations consultants have stated the trials that preceded the executions had been in violation of worldwide legislation, whereas Dr Sasa, the spokesperson for Myanmar’s exiled Nationwide Unity Authorities has decried the executions as “acts of terror” towards the folks of Myanmar.

“We’ll deliver these army generals in Myanmar to justice, all these perpetrators in the future can be dropped at justice,” he instructed Al Jazeera.

‘Atrocious escalation’

Human rights teams have expressed concern for different pro-democracy protesters and campaigners, who’ve been arrested in mass protests amid widespread crackdowns by safety forces that the AAPP says has left greater than 2,100 folks lifeless. The army has stated that the demise toll is exaggerated.

 

UN Secretary-Normal Antonio Guterres additionally condemned the executions on Monday, calling them “a blatant violation to the proper to life, liberty and safety of individual”.

Tom Andrews, the UN’s particular rapporteur on Myanmar, stated he was “outraged and devastated by the information”.

“These wicked acts should be a turning level … what extra should the junta do earlier than the worldwide neighborhood is prepared to take robust motion?”

Amnesty Worldwide accused the army of an “atrocious escalation in state repression” and warned that about 100 others had been presently on demise row after being convicted in army courts.

“These executions quantity to arbitrary deprivation of lives and are one other instance of Myanmar’s atrocious human rights document,” the organisation’s Regional Director, Erwin van der Borght, stated in a press release. “The 4 males had been convicted by a army court docket in extremely secretive and deeply unfair trials.”

Elaine Pearson, the performing Asia director at Human Rights Watch, known as the executions an “act of utter cruelty”.

“The junta’s barbarity and callous disregard for human life goals to sit back the anti-coup protest motion. European Union member states, the USA, and different governments ought to present the junta that there can be a reckoning for its crimes.”

 

The final judicial execution to be carried out in Myanmar is mostly believed to have been of one other political offender, scholar chief Salai Tin Maung Oo, in 1976 beneath a earlier army authorities led by strongman Ne Win.

International Justice Day 2022: Time for ICC to flip the script | Courts

For a few years, the Worldwide Legal Court docket (ICC) was pilloried with allegations that it was biased towards African states and unfairly focused African leaders. The costs have been extreme and rife. They got here from journalists, lecturers and state leaders – a few of whom, it must be careworn, have been extra frightened about their very own alleged involvement in atrocities than the impartiality of the Court docket.

Higher equality within the international distribution of accountability for worldwide crimes – struggle crimes, crimes towards humanity and genocide – is desperately wanted. July 17 is Worldwide Justice Day. It commemorates the anniversary of the adoption of the Rome Statute of the Worldwide Legal Court docket. It’s also a helpful second to mirror on simply how “worldwide” worldwide justice truly is.

Accountability for mass atrocities is much from evenly distributed. To paraphrase the previous US Ambassador-at-Massive for Struggle Crimes Points, Stephen Rapp, in the case of worldwide crimes, there’s just some justice in some locations for some individuals among the time. It was simply final month that the ICC lastly issued warrants for non-African nationals, residents of the Russian-backed territory of South Ossetia; they’re charged with struggle crimes and crimes towards humanity dedicated in the course of the 2008 struggle in Georgia.

The ICC has solely investigated a handful of conditions and prosecuted even fewer. A part of that’s as a result of the Court docket is proscribed in its sources and attain. For years, states have nickeled-and-dimed the establishment and restricted its funds. In response to alleged authorities crimes being investigated by the ICC, some states, like Burundi and the Philippines, have pissed off the ICC’s capacity to research crimes by withdrawing their membership from the Court docket. Others, together with the USA, have waged refined campaigns to undermine the establishment’s standing and authority.

On this context, the latest dedication of the Court docket and plenty of of its member states to research and prosecute these accountable for mass atrocities following the Russian invasion of Ukraine is welcome. Quite a few capitals have supplied not solely unprecedented monetary support within the type of voluntary donations, but additionally their very own investigators to assist the ICC in its probe. By no means earlier than within the Court docket’s historical past has it loved such tangible assist. Even Washington has spoken positively of the ICC’s function in addressing atrocities in Ukraine.

The concentrate on the scenario in Ukraine and, particularly, perpetrators from Russia might have the impact of undermining the narrative that the ICC is singularly targeted on Africa. On the similar time, the Court docket’s welcome consideration on atrocities dedicated in Ukraine mustn’t distract it from contributing to justice efforts on the African continent in a fashion that respects the efforts of African states to deal with their very own atrocities and is delicate to native contexts. It may achieve this by pursuing accountability itself or by working with companions to galvanise states to do the arduous work of holding perpetrators to account in their very own courts.

Victims and survivors of atrocities in Africa must also profit from the advances and classes discovered in pursuing accountability in Ukraine. That features the novel use of digital forensic investigations to catalogue and hint atrocities, the speedy home prosecution of worldwide crimes by nationwide authorities, and efforts geared toward avoiding the duplication of investigation efforts.

The necessity for justice and accountability in Africa is not any much less urgent now than it was earlier than Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the ICC has a job to play and has room to enhance. Contemplate the next snapshot.

Because the United Nations Safety Council referred the scenario in Darfur, Sudan to the ICC in 2005, the Court docket has solely detained and initiated the trial of 1 accused, Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rahman. Regardless of the autumn of the regime of former authoritarian President Omar al-Bashir in 2019 and ongoing allegations of atrocities towards Sudanese civilians and demonstrators all through the nation, the Court docket has mentioned it can solely prosecute crimes dedicated in Darfur. Rumours have persevered that authorities in Khartoum may switch al-Bashir to The Hague, the place he faces prices of struggle crimes, crimes towards humanity, and genocide, however that has not occurred. In the meantime, atrocities proceed to be dedicated in Darfur.

Within the wake of the Arab Spring revolution and the 2011 civil struggle in Libya, the nation has been in turmoil, with sharp geographical divisions and plenty of areas being dominated by the barrel of the gun greater than by the rule of regulation. In 2011, the ICC issued three arrest warrants, together with one for Muammar Gaddafi’s son, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, who will not be solely having fun with impunity however making an attempt a run for president. Different warrants have been issued since 2017, however a decade after the ICC began its investigation, not a single perpetrator has been prosecuted in The Hague for atrocities dedicated within the nation.

Nigeria’s struggle towards Boko Haram might have subsided from its most intense ranges, however violence persists, and hundreds of suspected Boko Haram fighters had been held for years in detention with out trial. The ICC has concluded its preliminary examination into the scenario in Nigeria and located that there are cheap grounds to imagine that each Boko Haram and the Nigerian army have dedicated struggle crimes and crimes towards humanity.

There are different conditions throughout the continent the place calls for for justice haven’t been met. Guinea, Ethiopia, Burundi, South Sudan, and Uganda are all contexts by which atrocities have been dedicated, however justice efforts have fallen brief.

The ICC will not be a whole reply to impunity for atrocities in Africa. As its chief Prosecutor Karim Khan has affirmed, it’s “not the highest of the pyramid”; however a courtroom of final resort, lively solely the place states can’t or gained’t prosecute atrocities themselves.

It may solely ever achieve this a lot and usually faces aggressive campaigns from self-interested states defending themselves from the Court docket’s scrutiny. However the ICC is a part of a wider community of establishments able to delivering a modicum of justice for worldwide crimes.

For 20 years, critics insisted that the ICC handled African states like a “laboratory” by which to follow the investigation of worldwide crimes. The Court docket is now targeted, greater than ever, on occasions exterior of the continent. That is a crucial growth and can hopefully result in the ICC’s gaze being extra evenly distributed. However the Court docket nonetheless has a job to play in African states the place mass atrocities have been dedicated. It ought to flip the script, and take the teachings discovered in Ukraine to assist ship justice in Africa.

The views expressed on this article are the authors’ personal and don’t essentially mirror Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.