Myanmar junta sentences 19 to death for killing officer
Nineteen people have been sentenced to death in Myanmar for killing an associate of an army captain, the military owned Myawaddy TV station said on Friday, the first such sentences announced in public since a February 1 coup and crackdown on protesters, Reuters reports.
The report said the killing took place on March 27 in the North Okkalapa district of Yangon, Myanmar's biggest city. Martial law has been declared in the district, allowing courts martial to pronounce sentences.
The military rulers who overthrew an elected government said on Friday that a protest campaign against its rule was dwindling because people wanted peace, and that it would hold elections within two years, the first timeframe it has given for a return to democracy.
Troops fired rifle grenades at anti-coup protesters on Friday in the town of Bago, near Yangon, witnesses and news reports said. At least 10 people were killed and their bodies piled up inside a pagoda, they said.
Junta spokesman Brigadier General Zaw Min Tun told a news conference in the capital, Naypyitaw, that the country was returning to normal and government ministries and banks would resume full operations soon.
The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) activist group has said 614 people, including 48 children, had been killed by security forces since the coup, as of Thursday evening. More than 2,800 were in detention, it said.
"We are humbled by their courage and dignity," a group of 18 ambassadors in Myanmar said of the protesters in a joint statement.
"We stand together to support the hopes and aspirations of all those who believe in a free, just, peaceful and democratic Myanmar. Violence has to stop, all political detainees must be released and democracy must be restored."
The statement was signed by the ambassadors of the United States, Britain, the EU, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Switzerland and several other European nations.
"The suggestions from neighbouring countries and big countries and powerful people in politics, we respect them," Zaw Min Tun said. He also accused members of deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy of arson and said the protest campaign was being financed by foreign money, but gave no details.
Suu Kyi and many of her party colleagues have been in custody since the coup.
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