Some people like to say that a government had no choice but to kill a martyr, or imprison a confessor, etc.
If you’re the government, and you’re the folks with the power to deprive people of their life, liberty, and property (not to mention torture, etc.), you have all the choice in the world! The saints were not holding guns to the heads of Queen Elizabeth I’s bullyboys, for example. It was the opposite way around.