Cambodian leader asks Myanmar to reconsider executions of enemies | National Policy

By SOPHENG CHEANG and GRANT PECK – Associated Press

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Cambodia’s prime minister has urged military-ruled Myanmar to reconsider death sentences against four political opponents, suggesting their execution will draw strong international condemnation and complicate efforts to restore peace. peace in the strife-torn nation.

Hun Sen’s letter on Saturday to Myanmar’s leader, General Min Aung Hlaing, adds to global concern and protest over the planned executions of four men involved in the fight against military rule. A copy of the letter has been received from the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Hun Sen wrote: “With deep concern and sincere desire to help Myanmar achieve peace and national reconciliation, I would like to urge you and the State Administrative Council (SAC) to reconsider the sentences and refrain from carrying out the death sentences pronounced against these people. anti-SAC people.

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The letter is unusual because Southeast Asian governments rarely issue statements that could be seen as critical of each other’s internal affairs. Hun Sen himself has a reputation as a leader willing to use authoritarian methods to stay in power for 37 years. However, the Cambodian Constitution of 1989 abolished the death penalty.

A Myanmar military spokesman announced on June 3 that Phyo Zeya Thaw, a 41-year-old former lawmaker from ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, and Kyaw Min Yu, a better-known 53-year-old veteran pro-democracy activist as Ko Jimmy, would be executed for violating the country’s anti-terrorism law.

Spokesman Major General Zaw Min Tun said the decision to hang them and two other men convicted of murdering a woman they believed to be a military informant was made after their appeals were denied against the judgment of the military court.

No date has been announced for the planned executions.

In February last year, Myanmar’s military seized power from the elected government of Suu Kyi, sparking widespread peaceful protests that quickly erupted into armed resistance, and the country slipped into what some experts in the UN call it a civil war.

Hun Sen is particularly interested in Myanmar because Cambodia this year chairs the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, ASEAN, to which Myanmar belongs.

ASEAN has sought to play a role in promoting an end to violence in Myanmar and providing humanitarian assistance there. But Myanmar’s military did not cooperate with ASEAN’s plans.

Cambodian Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn is ASEAN’s special envoy to Myanmar, but Hun Sen has publicly expressed pessimism about achieving a breakthrough in relations with Myanmar’s generals.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has called for all charges against those arrested for exercising their fundamental rights and freedoms to be dropped and for the immediate release of all political prisoners in Myanmar.

On Friday, two UN experts added harsher condemnations.

“The illegitimate military junta provides the international community with further proof of its disregard for human rights as it prepares to hang pro-democracy activists,” Thomas Andrews, special rapporteur on human rights, said in a statement. Rights in Myanmar, and Morris Tidball-Binz, Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions.

“These death sentences, handed down by an illegitimate court of an illegitimate junta, are a vile attempt to instill fear among the people of Myanmar.”

They also noted that the army is already accused of carrying out the extrajudicial executions of nearly 2,000 civilians.

The Political Prisoners Assistance Association, a non-governmental organization that tracks killings and arrests, said on Friday that 1,929 civilians had been killed by security forces. He said another 114 people had been sentenced to death.

Western governments have also lambasted the death sentences.

Myanmar’s foreign ministry on Monday dismissed such criticism, saying its justice system was fair and that Phyo Zeya Thaw and Kyaw Min Yu had been found guilty and sentenced to death “as they turned out to be the masterminds of orchestrating of large-scale terrorist attacks against innocent civilians”. to sow fear and disrupt peace and stability.

Peck reported from Bangkok.

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