Conviction of Burmese American Politically Motivated: US
11 February 2010: The United States has said that the conviction of an American citizen by a Burmese court on Wednesday to three year imprisonment was unjustified and politically motivated.
The US State Department in a press statement yesterday expressed deep concerns at the decision by Burmese court. “We continue to urge the Burmese regime to release him and allow him to return home to the United States,” Phillip Crowley, State Department spokesman said.
Kyaw Zaw Lwin is a naturalized American citizen of Burmese origin who was arrested by Burmese authorities on his arrival at Mingladone International Airport in the former Burmese capital Rangoon on September 3, 2009. At the time of his arrest, Kyaw Zaw Lwin a.k.a. Nyi Nyi Aung was holding a US passport and a valid Burmese visa issued by the Burmese embassy in Bangkok, Thailand.
He was initially charged with trying to instigate political unrests and having links to dissidents plotting violent anti-government campaigns inside Burma. However, his conviction yestderday was on fraud and forgery, charges that were added on to his original accusations by the Burmese authorities.
International rights groups, including London-based Amnesty International, citing credible sources, have said that the Burma-born American was tortured while under judicial custody. Nyi Nyi Aung recently ended his nearly two-week hunger strike inside Burma’s most notorious Insein Prison cell where he has been held since his arrest.
Another American citizen John Yettaw was convicted in Burma in August 2009 to seven years in prison for swimming across the lake behind detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi;s house. He was released and returned to the United States upon diplomatic intervention by the US when Democratic Senator James Webb made a high profile visit to Burma late last year.
US-based watchdog Human Rights Watch in December accused the US government of playing a double standard for not being publicly outspoken about the detained Burmese-American. Unlike the high profile diplomatic intervention in the case of John Yettaw, a natural born US citizen, the United States has long remained silent on the case of Nyi Nyi Aung, although he was provided consular access while in judicial custody.
“It makes no sense for senior US officials to publicly speak up for somebody who landed Suu Kyi in prison, while staying silent about the arrest of a committed human rights activist like Nyi Nyi Aung,” said Human Rights Watch in a press release in December, which also urged US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton to public press for the release of detained American in Burma.