Who were the four people executed by Myanmar’s junta?

Veteran democracy activist and a rapper-turned-politician among those executed by the regime

Kyaw Min Yu (AKA Ko Jimmy)

The 53-year-old rose to prominence as a student leader during the 1988 uprising against Myanmar’s previous military regime. The protest movement was brutally crushed by the military, which used lethal force against thousands of protesters. Like many others, Kyaw Min Yu was imprisoned.

Kyaw Min Yu was not released until 2005, according to local media. Two years later he was arrested for his role in the 2007 Saffron Revolution, a protest movement sparked by the rising cost of fuel. He spent much of his life in prison, a total of 21 years, according to local reports.

Kyaw Min Yu leaves behind a 15-year-old daughter. His widow, Ma Nilar Thein, who was also a leader of the 88 Generation Students Group, is in hiding, according to local media.

Phyo Zeya Thaw.
Phyo Zeya Thaw, pictured in 2015, was a rapper before he served as an MP in Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party. Photograph: Aung Shine Oo/AP

Phyo Zeya Thaw

The 41-year-old was a former politician from Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) who was a close ally of the ousted leader.

Before entering politics, he was a prominent hip-hop artist who had founded one of Myanmar’s first rap groups, Acid. In 2000, he released the country’s first rap album, which chimed with young people tired of the military regime.

Phyo Zayar Thaw was also one of the founding members of Generation Wave, a youth movement that used graffiti and pamphlets to spread anti-military messages. He was imprisoned for his activism in 2008 for three years.

He went on to become a lower-house MP in April 2012, the same year Aung San Suu Kyi was elected to parliament. He did not contest the 2020 election because he wanted to focus on his music.

In a documentary, Phyo Zeya Thaw said he had a tattoo on his back showing a microphone in the centre of a map of Myanmar; a symbol of his goal to speak for the people.

Hla Myo Aung and Aung Thura Zaw

Hla Myo Aung and Aung Thura Zaw were convicted on 12 April and sentenced to death the next month. They had killed a woman who was suspected of being an informant for the military, the junta said.

The Assistance Association of Political Prisoners (AAPP), an activist group, said they were from Yangon and had been involved in protests and resistance movements since the 2021 coup. People from all walks of life – from doctors and teachers to farmers and poets – have joined in movements opposing the military since the coup, despite the huge risks.


Rebecca Ratcliffe in Bangkok

The GuardianTramp

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