Detained US citizen on hunger strike

Dec 8, 2009 (DVB), The Burmese-born US citizen currently detained in a Rangoon prison on charges of fraud is staging a hunger strike, his aunt has said.

Kyaw Zaw Lwin, also known as Nyi Nyi Aung, has met with his family on several occasions since he was arrested upon arrival at Rangoon International Airport on 3 September.

He is being charged with carrying false identification and excessive amounts of the Burmese currency, the kyat.

His aunt told DVB yesterday that he had begun a hunger strike in his cell in Insein prison.

"He looked very weak and pale when I saw him so I asked if he was OK and he told me he was on hunger strike," said Su Su Kyi.

"He said he was doing it in a protest against the government's imprisoning of many young people under various unfair charges, and oppressing them with no rights.

She added that he was also protesting the Burmese junta's failure to initiate dialogue with the opposition, and for an end the military dictatorship.

"I think he stopped eating last Friday [4 December] evening because he looked fine when I saw him in a court hearing earlier that day," said Su Su Kyi. "He is also suffering from bedsores as he has been sleeping on a hard floor in his prison cell."

There had been initial speculation following his arrest that the government were implicating him in a series of bomb plots that hit Rangoon in mid-September, although these were executed a fortnight after he had been arrested.

Kyaw Zaw Lwin, himself an activist and former member of the All Burma Student Democratic Front (ABSDF), has two relatives serving sentences in Burmese prisons for involvement with anti-junta groups.

Both his cousin and mother were imprisoned on charges related to the September 2007 monk-led uprising.

Officials at the US embassy in Rangoon, which has been monitoring Kyaw Zaw Lwin's case, were unable to comment on the hunger strike.

Reporting by Aye Nai

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