Despite international protests, Myanmar’s military junta is sticking to the planned executions of prominent democracy activists Ko Jimmy and Ko Phyo Zeya Thaw. The execution of the death sentences by hanging is “appropriate and irreversible,” the independent news portal Irrawaddy (Saturday) quoted a statement by the junta as saying.

Irrawaddy fears that the execution of the two activists will lead to a further escalation of the conflict in Myanmar. Several resistance organizations, especially urban guerrilla groups, have already vowed revenge if the death sentences are carried out.

Meanwhile, Deputy Junta Chief Soe Win assured the portal that the military had been urged to respect human rights and protect civilians.

According to the United Nations, the reports of the past few days about entire villages being burned, relatives of dissidents being held in detention by members of their families, sexual violence by soldiers against women and the shelling and bombardment of churches and church institutions in regions with a large Christian population speak a different language.