‘The junta will bear full responsibility if my husband is executed’: Nilar Thein

The wife of veteran activist Ko Jimmy vows to make the regime pay if it carries out the death sentence.
By Khin Maung Soe for RFA Burmese
‘The junta will bear full responsibility if my husband is executed’: Nilar Thein Nilar Thein in Yangon, in a file photo.
RFA illustration; AFP photo

88 Generation leader Ko Jimmy and former National League for Democracy lawmaker Phyo Zeyar Thaw were sentenced to death by a military tribunal on Jan. 21 for violating Myanmar’s Anti-Terrorism Law. They and two other men on death row — Hla Myo Aung and Aung Thura Zaw — lost appeals of their cases last week. A junta spokesperson on Tuesday rejected the possibility of a pardon in response to international and domestic condemnation of the sentences, meaning that the four men may end up being the first to be executed in Myanmar in 34 years. Speaking to RFA’s Burmese Service on Thursday, Ko Jimmy’s wife Nilar Thein vowed that the junta will not escape punishment if it proceeds with the execution of her husband.

RFA: The military council has issued an execution order for Ko Jimmy, who was sentenced to death. The junta’s spokesperson said the appeal process is complete and the Prison Department is now in charge of his case. What else do you know about the process?

Nilar Thein: Ever since Ko Jimmy’s arrest, we received no contact or information from the junta. Likewise, we didn’t get a chance to consult with an attorney to submit appeals for him. That’s why the junta’s decision must be incorrect. We never got a chance to work with the authorities for Ko Jimmy’s case.

RFA: What is your response to Ko Jimmy’s death sentence?

Nilar Thein: The junta will be held accountable for all its actions and statements at some point. They will have to take responsibility for what they did, regardless of who they did it to. This day will come.

RFA: Ko Jimmy has been charged under the counter-terrorism law. Do you think he was really involved in terrorist activities?

Nilar Thein: Everyone knows who is committing violent terrorist acts and who has become the victims of these acts. We have the right to defend ourselves from aggression and injustice … we have become the victims of the junta’s violent tactics. We are exercising our right to defend ourselves – to protect our lives, homes, and properties from these acts.

RFA: The military council has stated that they will move forward to execution in Ko Jimmy’s case. Do you believe they will carry out the execution order?

Nilar Thein: This is entirely up to them. Under the law and from the perspective of the human rights community, they should not carry out this death sentence. Death sentences have not been carried out in Myanmar for a long time. It is a blatant violation of human rights even to state that they intend to carry out the execution order, to kill a human being like killing a bird or chicken ... Regardless of what they will do, I want them to know they will be accountable for their decisions. Their acts will not be forgotten.

RFA: What are you currently working on for him? Are you engaged with any international organizations about his case?

Nilar Thein: I have contacted some international organizations, such as Amnesty International. As soon as the news came out about the execution orders for Ko Jimmy and Ko Phyo Zeyar Thaw, several international organizations and foreign diplomats contacted me and told me that they would protest the decision.

RFA: What do you want to tell Ko Jimmy?

Nilar Thein: I think he has written his history by committing to a cause he believes in. He has his duty done for the people. I want to tell him I am very proud of him.

RFA: What message do you have for the people of Myanmar?

Nilar Thein: No matter how the times have changed, the power of the people will be the deciding factor in our country’s future … Those who have participated have played important roles in the resistance and they will be part of history. Whatever comes next, I trusted in the people’s power. That’s why we all need to stay united and join hands to drive out this military regime.

Translated by Ye Kaung Myint Maung.


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Jun 09, 2022 11:52 PM

i share my anger and thoughts with you over the juntas decision ,, but who is going to hold them to account ,, they have no one to answer to but the resistence who bravely fight them for freedom ,, everything else is just talk ,,