US urges China to increase pressure on Myanmar after execution of democracy activists

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The US has called on China to condemn Myanmar after it executed four pro-democracy activists, including a former lawmaker from ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, in the country’s first use of capital punishment in more than three decades.

At a press briefing on Monday, state department spokesperson Ned Price said the US would call on other countries to condemn the actions of Myanmar’s junta.

“We have discussed the goal of putting Burma [Myanmar] back on the path to democracy with virtually all of our allies and partners in the region,” he said.

“Arguably, no country has the potential to influence the trajectory of Burma’s next steps moreso than the PRC [People’s Republic of China],” he added.

“And we’ve called on all countries to act responsibility, to use their influence in a way that is constructive, 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.”

Myanmar’s junta said on Monday that veteran democracy figure Kyaw Min Yu, 53, better known as Jimmy, was executed on charges of terrorism alongside former National League for Democracy lawmaker Phyo Zeyar Thaw, 41, and activists Hla Myo Aung and Aung Thura Zaw.

At a press briefing, junta spokesman Zaw Min Tun said the executions had been done after the four had defended themselves in court, reported the BBC.

“If we compare their sentence with other death penalty cases, they have committed crimes for which they should have been given death sentences many times,” he further claimed.

He added that the four men had been allowed to speak with family members by video link before their execution, but this was countered by the wife of Phyo Zeyar Thaw, who said she was not told of her husband’s execution.

The executions have been met with widespread international condemnation.

The EU, Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea, the UK and the US issued a joint statement and referred to the executions as “reprehensible acts of violence that further exemplify the regime’s disregard for human rights and the rule of law”.

Amnesty International has warned 100 more people in the country have been sentenced to death after being convicted in similar proceedings.

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