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Myanmar's executed activists: Phyo Zeya Thaw and Ko Jimmy

Myanmar on Monday woke up to the news that the country's military junta had executed four democracy activists, including former lawmaker Phyo Zeya Thaw and veteran protest leader Ko Jimmy. The BBC spoke to their family and friends weeks before the two men were put to death.

"I love looking at the stars. He knows it very well. At that moment, I knew the sky was the only way for us to communicate," says Thazin Nyunt Aung, recalling the night of 3 June when she found out that the military had said her fiance Phyo Zeya Thaw's execution would go ahead. He had been sentenced in January.

He was one of four activists - Ko Jimmy, whose real name is Kyaw Min Yu, Hla Myo Aung and Aung Thura Zaw - whose death sentences were confirmed that day. All of them were executed sometime over the past weekend - it's unclear when - before a state media outlet reported their deaths on Monday morning.

But weeks ago, Thazin Nyunt Aung, was hopeful of a different outcome. "I strongly believe we are connected and he will stay strong," she said.

She took solace from the fact that Myanmar had not executed anyone for more than three decades - the last time was in 1988.












From rap to resistance

Phyo Zeya Thaw was among more than 120 people who have been sentenced to death since a bloody coup by the military overthrew Myanmar's democratically elected government in February last year and arrested the leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

He was arrested nine months later - in November - and accused of orchestrating a series of attacks against the junta.

Thazin Nyunt Aung left their home in Yangon and moved to a tiny safe house and has been there since - she says she stopped using Facebook before bedtime because her feed was filled with nothing but news of arrests of fellow protesters and atrocities by the military.

Phyo Zeya Thaw and Aung San Suu KyiIMAGE SOURCE,BBC BURMESE

Image caption, Phyo Zeya Thaw often accompanied Aung San Suu Kyi on international trips

When she found out about his death sentence, she said her eyes welled up and her body trembled. She felt cold. She remembered rushing out of the safe house out and walking with no particular destination in mind.

To calm herself, she looked up at the sky and recited Buddhist prayers for Phyo Zeya Thaw.