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Detained Burmese-American thrown into dog-cell


New Delhi (Mizzima) – Detained Burmese American, Kyaw Zaw Lwin a.k.a Nyi Nyi Aung, has been shifted to a separate room, called military dog-cell, inside the notorious Insein prison, his aunt said.

Khin Khin Swe, who was allowed to meet Nyi Nyi Aung on Monday for a brief 20 minutes, told Mizzima that her nephew had been transferred to a dog-cell since December 7.

“I met him for about 20 minutes. He is thinner though in good health. He told me he wants to meet his lawyers and an official from the US embassy,” Khin Khin Swe said.

“We could not talk to him freely during his last court appearance on Friday. He said he had called off his hunger strike protest on December 15,” she added.

Nyi Nyi Aung, began a hunger-strike on December 4, in protest against the treatment of prisoners and demanding prisoner’s rights. But on the third day of the strike, prison authorities transferred him to the dog-cell, about an 8 feet square cellar where dogs are usually kept.

“He is not allowed to see or talk to anyone. And also not allowed to read newspapers. He said he was hooded when he was transferred to the dog-cell,” she added.

Nyi Nyi Aung’s aunt said, during their brief meeting with her nephew, prison security officials were busy listening and taking notes of their conversation.

Meanwhile, on Friday, 53 US Congressmen including Howard Berman, Chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, and Mr. Frank Wolf Co-Chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, sent a letter to Burmese Military Supremo Snr Gen Than Shwe asking him to immediately release Nyi Nyi Aung.

The United States Lawmakers, in their letter dated December 18 and addressed to Than Shwe, said Nyi Nyi Aung’s arrest is in violation of the Vienna Convention and is against domestic and international laws.

Besides, the pro-democracy activist have been deprived of his right to adequate healthcare, food, rest and an independent judiciary and is subject to torture, the letter accused.

The letter also said, Nyi Nyi Aung’s charges and trial has caused alarm among US lawmakers and raises serious doubts about the Burmese government’s willingness to improve relations with the US.

“We urge you in the strongest possible terms to immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Aung and allow him to return to the United States,” the U.S. Congressmen told Than Shwe in the letter.

Nyi Nyi Aung, a naturalised US citizen, was arrested by Burmese authorities upon his arrival from Bangkok at the Rangoon Mingalardon airport on September 3.

The junta’s mouthpiece New Light of Myanmar newspaper accused the Burmese-American of having entered Burma eight times in the past and instigating public unrest by supporting underground activists in Rangoon.

But the charge-sheet filed against him, however, did not include any of the accusations made against him in the newspaper. He has been charged with forgery, holding a fake national identity card, cheating, and violation of foreign exchange regulations.

But the defendant’s international lawyer, Beth Swanke told Mizzima over telephone that the charges are ‘sham’ and the reason behind his arrest was his activism in promoting democracy and human rights in Burma.

Nyi Nyi Aung was an active student involved in the 1988 democracy uprising. He was forced to flee to the Thai-Burmese border along with several other students as the military junta began brutally cracking down on protestors.

He later migrated to United States and naturalised as a citizen.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 23 December 2009 17:16 )  

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