Relatives of a Burmese-born US citizen who was taken into custody shortly after arriving in Rangoon last week said they have received no news about him, and are concerned about his safety.
“We are extremely worried about him,” said Ko Ko Aung, brother of Nyi Nyi Aung, who was arrested by Burmese military intelligence agents soon after landing at Rangoon’s international airport on a flight from Bangkok on September 3.
According to Ko Ko Aung, the Burmese authorities have provided no information about where Nyi Nyi Aung is being held or what he has been charged with.
“Actually, we don’t even know why he went back to Burma,” said Ko Ko Aung.
Earlier this week, US-based Radio Free Asia reported that the US State Department said it was seeking consular access to Nyi Nyi Aung.
“We have sought consular access,” State Department spokesperson Ian Kelly was quoted as saying. “As soon as we saw this report, we did go to the government in Burma and ask for additional information.”
The US embassy in Rangoon also said that it was looking into the case.
“We have reached out to [the Burmese] government to get additional information,” said an embassy spokesperson, adding that no further information was available.
Nyi Nyi Aung was a student activist during Burma’s 1988 pro-democracy uprising. He later fled to the Thai-Burmese border and was subsequently granted political asylum in the US.
In a letter sent to Collin P. Furst, the consul of the US embassy in Rangoon, Nyi Nyi Aung’s friend Kyaw Zwa Aung said that the detained activist entered Burma with a valid social visit visa obtained from the Burmese embassy in Bangkok.
Five members of Nyi Nyi Aung’s family, including his mother, are serving long prison terms for their role in the September 2007 monk-led pro-democracy uprising, dubbed the “Saffron Revolution.”