Tuesday, December 29, 2009

South Asian Nightmare

In June, Gaithersburg resident Kyaw Zaw Lwin traveled from Thailand to New York to deliver a petition to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's special adviser on Burma. The petition, with 680,000 signatures, called on the secretary-general to exert pressure for the release of more than 2,000 political prisoners.

Now, in a tragic twist - and as the Obama administration moves forward with a new policy of increased engagement with Burma - Mr. Zaw Lwin, a U.S. citizen who often goes by the name Nyi Nyi Aung, has disappeared into a Burmese jail cell himself. (Although the ruling junta changed the country's name in English from Burma to Myanmar in 1989, I and most supporters of freedom and human rights there prefer the original name.)

On Sept. 3, Mr. Zaw Lwin flew to Rangoon, where Burmese authorities arrested him on arrival. Returning to Burma, which he left in 1988, may seem a little crazy. Mr. Zaw Lwin works for the Free Burmese Political Prisoners Now campaign in Thailand; his mother and two cousins are serving lengthy prison terms in Burma for participating in the peaceful demonstrations in 2007.

To read more: http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2009/10/02/south-asian-nightmare?tr=y&auid=5760630

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