In Myanmar, nineteen people were sentenced to death on Friday by the country’s military junta, which was announced on Saturday. This is said to be the first time the death penalty has been used since the Myanmar military coup in early February. Although the death penalty is allowed in Myanmar, it has been more than 30 years since it was last executed in the country.
“This shows that the military junta is ready to go back to the time when the death penalty was imposed on the people of Myanmar,” said Bill Robertson, of the Asian branch of Human Rights Watch. The suspects will not be able to appeal as the trial is being held in a military court.
The perpetrators were convicted of robbery and murder by a military court. Seventeen of them were not physically present at the trial. They were encircled in northern Oklahoma in the eastern part of the Rangoon region. The area is in a state of emergency, meaning anyone arrested will automatically be questioned by a military tribunal.
According to Robertson, the military’s goal is to prevent protesters from taking to the streets and get them back to work. Due to the national boycott, Myanmar’s economy is now largely flat.
Myanmar has been in turmoil since the February 1 coup and the arrest of government leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Security forces are said to have killed 600 protesters so far. In the village of Pago alone, more than 80 protesters were reportedly killed on Friday.