US citizen reportedly in solitary confinement

Jan 20, 2010 (DVB), The Burmese-born US citizen detained in a Rangoon prison has been placed in solitary confinement, along with two other inmates, prison sources say.

The reasons for the punishment are not clear. The source said that Kyaw Zaw Lwin, also known as Nyi Nyi Aung, and two political activists, Aung Thu and Min Min Htun, were moved to solitary confinement on 12 January.

It is the second time Nyi Nyi Aung has been place in a solitary, and follows reports that his relatives have been denied entry to the prison to see him.

The US embassy in Rangoon, which has had sporadic consular access to Nyi Nyi Aung, said they had heard no news on the incident, and had not been granted permission to visit him since 28 December last year.

Reports surfaced on 22 December that he had been moved to Insein prison's so-called 'dog cells', where conditions are notoriously poor, after staging a hunger strike.

His aunt, Su Su Kyi, who tried to see him on Monday, said that family visits will now take place only once every three weeks, a reduction from the weekly visits permitted after he was first arrested in September last year.

"I was very angry to hear that. Prison official Zaw Min Htun said that I might get to see him on 27 January, three weeks since the last visit, but he didn't say that was for sure," she said.

Nyi Nyi Aung, a former political activist who fled to the US in 1993, was arrested on 3 September last year upon arrival at Rangoon airport.

He is being charged with fraud and forgery, which together carry a maximum sentence of 17 years. There had been initial speculation that judges would try him on terrorism charges, but these have been dropped.

His wife, who remains in the US, said in article published in the Bangkok Post last month that he had flown to Burma to visit his mother, who was sick with cancer. He had reportedly made several trips to Burma since he fled in 1993.

The two other inmates, Aung Thu and Min Min Htun, were arrested last year along with six other activists and are being tried under the Unlawful Associations Act and the Explosives Act.

Reporting by Khin Hnin Htet and Naw Say Phaw

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