The homes of two democracy activists executed by Myanmar’s junta over the weekend were attacked by groups of unidentified men on Wednesday, according to residents who described the assailants as military supporters yelling obscenities and threatening the lives of the activists’ family members.
A source in Myanmar’s commercial capital Yangon told RFA Burmese that around 40 men in seven trucks pulled up to the home of former National League for Democracy (NLD) lawmaker Phyo Zeya Thaw on Bo Aung Kyaw Street in Kyauktada township at around 12:30 p.m. and began hurling projectiles at the building.
“They were throwing stones and tomatoes and attacking with slingshots, at the same time cursing and swearing,” said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, but identified themselves as a neighbor of the lawmaker whose party was deposed by the military in a coup last year.
“They seemed to be mostly supporters of the military. They were very mean – even threatening the lives of the elderly.”
Witnesses said that the men drove away when security forces arrived at the scene, but vowed to return.
Phyo Zeya Thaw’s mother, Khin Win May, confirmed to The Irrawaddy online journal on Wednesday that the family home had been attacked.
A video circulating on a pro-military channel of the social media platform Telegram appeared to show several men standing outside the entrance to the building, throwing rocks and admonishing Khin Win May for expressing how proud she is of her son, which she did in an interview with RFA on Monday after learning of his execution.
A description posted along with the video read, “people who do not want terrorism gathered to protest in front of the house of Phyo Zeya Thaw’s parents, who said they are proud of their son – a terrorist leader involved in the violent killing of many people.”
State media announced the execution of Phyo Zeya Thaw, former student leader Ko Jimmy, whose real name is Kyaw Min Yu, and activists Hla Myo Aung and Aung Thura Zaw, on Monday without reporting the date and method of killings. It is believed the men, who were convicted of “terrorism” against the military regime and the people of Myanmar, were hanged on Saturday in Yangon’s Insein Prison.
The act drew widespread condemnation from Western governments, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), international rights groups and Myanmar-based democracy activists, as well as the Southeast Asian nation’s shadow National Unity Government and the People’s Defense Force (PDF) paramilitaries that are fighting the junta on the NUG’s behalf.
Ko Jimmy’s home targeted
A group of unidentified men also attacked the home of Ko Jimmy’s parents in Yangon’s Insein township on Wednesday, according to a witness, who declined to be named citing security concerns.
The witness said that more than two dozen men armed with sticks and swords arrived at the house at around 1 p.m. in two vans and five pickup trucks and began pelting it with stones.
“Those who attacked Ko Jimmy’s house came with swords hidden in their umbrellas, about thirty people,” they said.
“When residents came out [to investigate], they left the neighborhood.”
Another video posted to the same pro-military channel on Telegram appeared to show a group of men standing outside of Ko Jimmy’s parents’ home, cursing the former student leader as a “traitor” and threatening the lives of his family members.
RFA was unable to independently confirm which organizations the two groups of attackers are associated with or how they were able to obtain the home addresses of the late democracy activists and their family members.
Despite the blowback over the weekend’s executions, junta Deputy Information Minister Maj. Gen. Zaw Min Tun told a press conference held in the capital Naypyidaw on Tuesday that the consequences of the punishments had “already been considered,” but the decision was taken to “mete out justice for those who died at their hands.”
“The crimes they committed deserved several more death sentences than the ones committed by those on the death row,” he said at the time, adding that authorities decided to proceed with the punishment “for the sake of innocent people and their relatives.”
According to Thai NGO Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, authorities have killed at least 2,131 civilians and arrested nearly 14,900 since the military seized power from Myanmar’s democratically elected government in a Feb. 1, 2021 coup, mostly during peaceful anti-junta protests.
Translated by Khin Maung Nyane. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.