Amid international outrage over the Myanmar military’s execution of four activists — including former lawmaker Phyo Zeya Thaw — the United States called on China to apply more pressure to the regime. File Photo by EPA-EFE
July 26 (BP) — The U.S. State Department said that there can be “no business as usual” with the military in Myanmar after the executions of four pro-democracy activists and called on China to do more to apply pressure to the Naypyidaw regime.
The ruling military junta, which seized power from the elected civilian government in a February 2021 coup, announced Monday that it had executed four men, including a former lawmaker with Aung San Suu Kyi’s ousted National League for Democracy Party.
”These heinous acts of violence demonstrate the regime’s brutality in a new and horrible light,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said during a press briefing on Monday. “We underscore that with the escalating violence with these horrific atrocities that the junta has carried out, there can be no business as usual with this regime.”
Price called for other nations to “use their influence in a way that works for the interests of the Burmese people, and that ultimately puts Burma back on the path to democracy.”
The United States still calls the Southeast Asian country Burma, the name that was used before a 1989 change by military rulers.
Price specifically urged more pressure from China, which has maintained support for the regime and has so far refused to comment on the executions.
“Arguably, no country has the potential to influence the trajectory of Burma’s next steps moreso than [China],” he said. “The fact is that the regime has not faced the level of economic and in some cases diplomatic pressure that we would like to see.”
File Photo by Stephen Shaver/BP
When asked about the Myanmar executions during a press briefing Monday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said that Beijing “always adheres to the principle of non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs.”
The killings were Myanmar’s first application of capital punishment in more than 30 years and drew widespread international condemnation from human rights organizations and governments.
A joint statement from the United States, European Union, Australia, Britain, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Norway and South Korea called the executions “reprehensible acts of violence that further exemplify the regime’s disregard for human rights and the rule of law.”
The member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, also denounced the “highly reprehensible” killings and called for dialogue “in order to end violence and alleviate the suffering of the innocent people.”
Price on Monday said that Washington was planning to escalate its economic pressure on Myanmar’s military regime.
“We of course don’t preview our own sanctions, but all options that serve to cut off the regime’s revenue, which it uses to perpetrate this violence — it’s on the table,” he said.
The four men executed included prominent democracy activist Kyaw Min Yu, known as “Ko Jimmy,” and lawmaker Phyo Zeya Thaw of the NLD under charges of “brutal and inhumane terror acts.”
Authorities did not alert family members ahead of the executions and have not returned their bodies or provided any details of the killings, local media and activist groups said.
“Relatives and friends are in agony because of the actions of the Prison Department and junta leaders who have imposed an information blackout from inside the walls of Insein [Prison],” the monitoring and advocacy group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners said in a statement.
According to the group, the junta has arrested nearly 15,000 civilians and killed 2,120, while a total of 117 political prisoners have been sentenced to death.