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A former Burmese army captain who turned his attention towards social work was arrested at the weekend and is now likely being held in an interrogation centre on the outskirts of Rangoon.
The reasons for Nay Myo Zin’s arrest remain unclear. A co-worker at the Rangoon blood donation group he volunteered at told DVB that they had spoken prior to his arrest.
“He phoned me around 4pm on Saturday and said he was being picked up by local [Special Branch] police sergeant Myint Swe to go to Aungthabyay interrogation centre for some questioning,” said Nyi Nyi.
“I told the [police] they could talk to me instead if they want to know about the blood donation but it seemed like they just wanted him. When I got there, they were already gone.”
The blood group was started in 2009 by Nyi Nyi, a member of the National League for Democracy, which until its dissolution last year was the Burmese junta’s strongest foe.
Groups such as these that operate outside state-run initiatives are often viewed with suspicion by the government, which has been known in the past to jail civilian relief and charity workers.
Nay Myo Zin’s mother, Khin Thi, told DVB today that a Defence Services sergeant arrived at their house earlier and asked for details about the 36-year-old.
“I told him that [Nay Myo Zin] was first posted in Swar [in Pegu division] and then later transferred to Taunggyi, and was there for six years before leaving the service.”
His mother said that he had left the army on his own volition because “he didn’t enjoy it there… I also said he is a morally strong kid who is very devoted to charity work but that he had no involvement in politics”.
She added that the sergeant was vague when asked where Nay Myo Zin was being held, saying only that he may be at the home affairs ministry, a common location for people to be questioned. The sergeant also refused to answer why he had been arrested.
Nyi Nyi said that the detainee should be allowed to see his family. “We are under a civilian government now so procedures should be done according to the law.
“We will make a [formal] request to let him see his parent after 24 hours [of detention] and he must be released after the interrogation. If the interrogation was not enough, authorities have to seek a remand from court and get a [court hearing] appointment from judges.”
Nay Myo Zin was allowed to speak to his family on Sunday, and the belongings confiscated by police have now been returned.