US detainee in Burma allegedly beaten

Sept 24, 2009 (DVB), The US citizen detained upon arrival in Burma earlier this month has allegedly been beaten and denied food for over a week, according to his aunt who spoke to US embassy staff.

Nyi Nyi Aung (also known as Kyaw Zaw Lwin), who has US citizenship, was arrested upon arrival at Rangoon International Airport on 3 September.

The state-run New Light of Myanmar newspaper said today that police, who had acted on a tip-off, made the arrest because he "planned to instigate unrest and launch terrorist attacks".

His aunt, Su Su Kyi, told DVB today that she had visited Rangoon's Insein prison, where he is being held, on Monday, but was denied access.

"Officials at the prison told me that [Nyi Nyi Aung] was only a concern for the US embassy as he was an American citizen," she said.

"I found out from the US embassy [in Rangoon] that he was not allowed to go to sleep for several days and also given no food for eight days. Apparently he had wounds all over his body from getting kicked."

A lawyer from the Thailand-based Burma Lawyers' Council likened the case to the recent trial in Burma of US citizen John Yettaw, for whom the US embassy had appointed him a lawyer.

"Whether [Nyi Nyi Aung] was born in Burma or elsewhere, he is still a holder of US citizenship and the US has to observe the situation surrounding his charges and how the case was built."

The New Light of Myanmar article went on to say that Nyi Nyi Aung was a member of the All Burma Student Democratic Front (ABSDF), an armed group who played a key role in in the 1988 Burma uprising.

ABSDF president, Than Khe, confirmed today that Nyi Nyi Aung had been a member, although had made no contact with the group for some time.

The article went on to say that the Burmese government would be "[taking] action against Nyi Nyi Aung" and that "further investigations are also being made to, expose and arrest his accomplices".

Reporting by Khin Hnin Htet

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