Burmese-American freed from jail in Burma

Nyi Nyi Aung arrives at Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok. (Photo: Getty Images)

(Mizzima) – In a sudden development, Burma-born American citizen and democracy activist Nyi Nyi Aung (a) Kyaw Zaw Lwin was released by the Burmese junta and deported to the United States today.

His Aunt Khin Khin Swe confirmed to Mizzima his release this afternoon from Insein Prison in Rangoon. He is now on his way to the United States via Bangkok with a Thai Airways International flight. The US Embassy in Rangoon confirmed the news of the release of Nyi Nyi Aung, when contacted  by Mizzima.

“We can confirm that Kyaw Zaw Lwin has been released from prison and has left the country. We welcome the development”, said Drake Weisert, Assistant Public Affairs Officer at the embassy in Rangoon.

However, His lawyers Nyan Win and Kyi Win, also lawyers of democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, were not available for comment.

Nyi Nyi Aung (40) was arrested in September last year and sentenced to three years in jail on February 10 on trumped up charges of possessing a forged national ID card and flouting the foreign exchange law. He was arrested in Rangoon International airport on entering the country.

The Burma born activist is a vocal supporter of Burmese democracy movement. He participated in the 1988 nationwide uprising as a student activist, demanding political and economic changes and left Burma for the Thai-Burma border after the military coup in September the same year. He resettled in the United States in 1993 as a refugee but he continued his struggle for restoration of democracy and human rights in his native country.

He was reportedly tortured and ill treated, which included solitary confinements in jail by the Burmese authorities during his six months detention in Burma.

Nyi Nyi Aung (Aka) Kyaw Zaw Lwin

In December last year, more than 50 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 junta Supremo Snr Gen Than Shwe asking him to immediately release Nyi Nyi Aung.

“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’s mother Daw San San Tin, is serving a five year term in prison for her political activities during the 2007 monk-led protests in the country. She has thyroid cancer.

The junta had accused, through its controlled state media that the Burmese-American had entered Burma eight times in the past and for instigating public unrest by supporting underground activists in Rangoon.

According to the ‘Association of Assistance to Political Prisoners-Burma’ (AAPP-B), over 2,100 political prisoners languish in prisons across Burma for their political beliefs.

Democracy leader and Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi is serving 18 months of house arrest that was commuted from three years in jail by the regime after an uninvited American citizen John Yettaw swam into her lake-side house and stayed for two nights last year. John Yettaw was also released from jail in August last year after American Senator James Webb met the military leader Than Shwe in Naypyitaw and appealed for his release.

United States is currently engaging with the Burmese junta while continuing the existing sanctions and punitive actions against the junta for its repression and human rights violations in the country.

Wa Wa Kyaw, also a Burmese-American and fiancee of Nyi Nyi Aung, in her statement to the Committee on Foreign Relations of the United States in January this year said that the U.S. government should not ignore human rights in the name of promoting dialogue.

“I applaud our government’s policy to engage with Burma, as it is the only way to have any chance to change the junta’s behaviour. But we need to engage in a way that achieves concrete and meaningful progress and is not just talk for the sake of talking,” she said in her statement.

 

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