Burma sentences American Nyi Nyi AUNG to 3 years of hard labor

A court in Burma has sentenced Nyi Nyi Aung, a Burmese-born U.S. citizen, to three years in prison for using forged identity documents and carrying undeclared foreign currency.

Nyi Nyi, 40, was arrested in September when he returned to Rangoon to visit his mother, an imprisoned democracy activist suffering from cancer.

The government initially accused Nyi Nyi of trying to foment political unrest, a charge he denied. He was eventually convicted of carrying a forged identity card and undeclared U.S. dollars, and not renouncing his Burmese nationality when he became a U.S. citizen.

Nyi Nyi’s lawyers and the Washington-based rights group Freedom Now say he was arrested before he reached the customs checkpoint at the airport and had no chance to declare his currency. They said that even Burmese authorities admitted there was no process to allow people such as Nyi Nyi to renounce their citizenship at the country’s embassies.

The court sentenced him to five years in prison with hard labor, commuted to three years with hard labor.

Nyi Nyi is a well-known democracy activist who was involved in the 1988 student uprising, a movement that prompted a crackdown by the military junta in which about 3,000 people died.
After fleeing Burma, also known as Myanmar, Nyi Nyi was granted refugee in the United States. He became a U.S. citizen in 2002 and is a Montgomery Village resident. In June he presented a petition to the United Nations on behalf of the families of political prisoners. Continue reading “Burma sentences American Nyi Nyi AUNG to 3 years of hard labor”

A U.S. Citizen’s Curious Journey to a Myanmar Jail

BANGKOK — At last count there were more than 2,100 political prisoners in Myanmar, according to human rights groups that track the opaque workings of the penal system in the military-run country. Among them is the unusual case of Nyi Nyi Aung, a naturalized U.S. citizen who gave up a 9-to-5 job in the relative comfort of the suburbs of Washington to campaign for democracy in his native Myanmar.

On Wednesday, a court in Myanmar is scheduled to announce a verdict on charges of forgery, possession of undeclared foreign currency and failure to renounce his Myanmar citizenship when he became a U.S. citizen. He faces 12 years’ imprisonment.

For the administration of President Barack Obama, the case comes at an awkward time, complicating U.S. efforts to try to engage the military government after years of minimal contacts between the two countries.

But beyond the politics of the case is the personal journey of Mr. Nyi Nyi Aung from teenage dissident in Myanmar to exile in the United States and finally what some describe as his curious decision — others call it bold — to travel back to Myanmar last September despite public warnings by the ruling junta that he was a wanted man for his anti-government activities.

Mr. Nyi Nyi Aung had spent the past several years campaigning for democracy in Myanmar from Thailand and the United States, and his work had caught the attention of the junta, which mentioned his name in the official media.

He had made four previous visits to Myanmar since becoming a U.S. citizen in 2002. Each time, including for his current visit, he obtained a visa from the Myanmar government, according to his lawyers. But the September trip appears to have been the first time he visited Myanmar after the junta publicly singled him out for inciting unrest. Continue reading “A U.S. Citizen’s Curious Journey to a Myanmar Jail”

Detained American’s hearing nears conclusion

New Delhi (Mizzima) – With the testimony of a defense witness on Tuesday, Rangoon’s Southern District court concluded witness hearings in the trial against Burmese-born American Kyaw Zaw Lwin, (alias) Nyi Nyi Aung.

“Both lawyers will present final arguments on January 22nd, and following that the court will hand down the verdict,” Kyi Win, one of the US citizen’s lawyers, told Mizzima.

The naturalized American has been standing trial on charges of fraud, forgery and illegal entry into the country.

“I don’t want to speculate on what the court will decide but our position is that the accused is innocent,” Kyi Win said.

The international lawyer of Nyi Nyi Aung, Beth Swanke, expanded on the legal position of the defense, claiming the charges are a ‘sham’ and an attempt to frame and imprison the accused, as he is a known pro-democracy activist advocating for democracy and human rights in Burma.

Nyi Nyi Aung, a student activist at the time of the nationwide protests in 1988, was forced to flee Burma to Thailand along with fellow students as the military began cracking down on protestors. He later moved to the United States, where he became a naturalized citizen. Continue reading “Detained American’s hearing nears conclusion”

U.S. Embassy officials say a detained Burmese-American has made another court appearance in Rangoon.

Burmese-born pro-democracy activist Kyaw Zaw Lwin was charged last week by a Burmese court with forgery and currency violations.
U.S. Embassy officials say a detained Burmese-American has made another court appearance in Burma’s main city, Rangoon.

A statement from the U.S. Embassy in Rangoon says Burmese-born pro-democracy activist Kyaw Zaw Lwin, also known as Nyi Nyi Aung, appeared in court Tuesday. The statement says a consular officer from the U.S. Embassy attended the hearing.

Lwin was arrested in September on his arrival in Burma. Last week a court charged him with forgery and currency violations.

U.S. Embassy officials have visited Lwin in jail, and attended his court appearances. The U.S. has called on Burma to follow international standards of due process in the case.

His next court appearance is scheduled for Friday.

Lwin settled in the United States after fleeing Burma in the late 1980s.

A letter signed by 53 U.S. lawmakers calling for Lwin’s immediate release was sent to the Burmese government last month. The letter says the activist is being held for his pro-democracy activities, and that his detention raises doubts about efforts to improve relations between the U.S. and Burma’s military-led government.

The human rights group Freedom Now says Lwin has been tortured since his arrest. Last month Lwin launched a hunger strike to protest his treatment.

Embassy officials say he has since ended his hunger strike and is now receiving regular medical attention.

US citizen Nyi Nyi Aung standing trial in Insein Prison was charged with yet another case today, this time by the Immigration Department

New Delhi (Mizzima) – US citizen Nyi Nyi Aung standing trial in Insein Prison was charged with yet another case today, this time by the Immigration Department, his lawyer said.

He is facing trial in three cases in Rangoon South District court sitting inside Insein prison. During today’s hearing the Botataung Township Immigration Department filed another case against him.

“Another case was filed against him today under section 6(3) of the 1949 Immigration Act, for making a wrong statement and entering with his ID. The Botataung Township Immigration Department Officer lodged a direct complaint in court. The court will pronounce its views on this complaint on 1 January 2010,” his lawyer Nyan Win said.

The defence lawyers argued on the first three cases today on behalf of their client Nyi Nyi Aung a.k.a. Kyaw Zaw Lwin (40) on whether he should be formally charged by the court as the public prosecutor had accused in the indictment or the charges dropped. Today’s trial was attended by the Vice-Consul from the US Embassy in Rangoon.

The former student activist fled to the Thai-Burma border after the army staged a coup in 1988. He resettled in the US later. He was alleged to have entered Burma eight times. Intelligence personnel arrested him when he arrived at the Rangoon Mingaladon airport via Bangkok on 3 September this year.

First he was charged under section 420 (fraud), 468 (forgery of national ID) of the Penal Code and under section 24 of the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act. Now the Immigration Department has filed another case against him today under section 6(3) of the Immigration Act.

Court Postpones Jailed US Citizen’s Nyi Nyi Aung Trial to Jan.1

The Burmese court hearing the case against Nyi Nyi Aung, the detained Burmese-born American Citizen and democracy activist, has postponed his trial to Jan. 1 in order to decide charges against him.

Speaking to The Irrawaddy on Tuesday, Nyan Win, one of two lawyers representing Nyi Nyi Aung, said the court heard the case for one hour from 10 a.m. before announcing the trial was to be postponed.

The Burmese authorities arrested Nyi Nyi Aung on Sept. 3, accusing him of using a forged Burmese identity card and illegally importing currencies into the country.

Nyi Nyi Aung’s Aunt, Khin Khin Swe, said the Burmese authorities were allowing relatives and representatives from the US embassy in Rangoon to see him once each every two weeks, but family members were not allowed to see him last week after he began a hunger strike. Continue reading “Court Postpones Jailed US Citizen’s Nyi Nyi Aung Trial to Jan.1”

US citizen was ‘visiting cancer sick mother’

Dec 11, 2009 (DVB)–The Burmese-born US citizen standing trial in Burma on charges of fraud had flown to the country to visit his mother, who is sick with cancer, his wife wrote today in The Nation newspaper.

In a heartfelt plea to the international community to step up pressure on the Burmese junta to release the country’s 2,100 political prisoners, the wife of Kyaw Zaw Lwin, also known as Nyi Nyi Aung, wrote of her pain at learning of his arrest in early September.
“I felt sick, but not surprised – although Nyi Nyi has always been a non-violent activist, the junta will say anything to justify its actions,” she said.
The story draws parallels with that of the husband of detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who in 1997 was denied entry to Burma to visit his wife after learning that he had prostate cancer.
Kyaw Zaw Lwin was arrested upon arrival at Rangoon International Airport on 3 September, with initial speculation that the government would try him on terrorism charges.
The terrorism charges have been dropped, but he now faces charges of fraud and possession of excessive amounts of the Burmese currency, which together carry a maximum sentence of 17 years. Continue reading “US citizen was ‘visiting cancer sick mother’”

BREAKING NEWS: Nyi Nyi Aung on Hunger Strike 7 Dec 2009

Political Prisoner on Hunger Strike

For Immediate Release:

December 7, 2009

Kyaw Zaw Lwin (a.k.a. Nyi Nyi Aung), a political prisoner in Burma’s notorious Insein Prison, is currently on hunger strike. He is on hunger strike to protest losing prisoners’ rights.
Kyaw Zaw Lwin is a 40-year-old male who was born in Burma and is now a naturalized U.S. citizen.He is a known political activist, and on 3 September 2009 he flew into Rangoon on a flight from Bangkok and was arrested by military authorities shortly after landing.During interrogation he was brutally tortured.He is currently on trial for charges related to fraud and of carrying excessive amounts of the Burmese currency into the country.