- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 26, 2009

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) | The U.S. Embassy said Friday it had made a formal complaint to the military government after a Myanmar-born American claimed he was mistreated in prison.

Kyaw Zaw Lin was secretly arrested Sept. 3 on arrival at Yangon airport. Dissident groups reported his disappearance but his whereabouts were unknown until he was allowed a U.S. consular visit Sept. 20 at Myanmar’s notorious Insein Prison.

The London-based human rights group Amnesty International said Thursday that “trusted sources” reported that he had suffered torture and other ill treatment in custody.

Myanmar authorities on Wednesday accused Kyaw Zaw Lwin of seeking to incite political unrest, according to reports on state radio and television. They claimed he had confessed to plotting with dissident groups outside the country, and accused him of being linked to several activists inside Myanmar who planned to set off bombs.

“The embassy early this week submitted an official complaint to the government, protesting mistreatment of the American citizen,” embassy spokesman Drake Weisert said Friday. “He is a U.S. citizen and we will continue to give him consular access and provide assistance any way we can.”

According to dissident groups, Kyaw Zaw Lin is a resident of Maryland.

There was no immediate official reaction to the embassy’s complaint.

Wednesday’s official news report said Kyaw Zaw Lwin entered Myanmar to stir up protests by Buddhist monks, who spearheaded pro-democracy demonstrations in 2007 that were brutally suppressed by the junta.

The report said Kyaw Zaw Lwin is a member of the dissident group the All Burma Students’ Democratic Front.

Kyaw Zaw Lwin’s mother is serving a five-year jail term for political activities and his sister was sentenced to 65 years in prison for her role in the 2007 pro-democracy protests, activist groups and family members said.

Meanwhile, opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi appeared to endorse a new U.S. policy announced Wednesday to engage with the military regime instead of simply trying to isolate it.

An attorney for Mrs. Suu Kyi said she is willing to work with the military government on getting Western sanctions lifted, but needs to be allowed to gather more information about the issue first.

Nyan Win, who is also a spokesman for Mrs. Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party, said after meeting the detained Nobel Peace Prize laureate Friday that she will send a letter to junta leader Senior Gen. Than Shwe with her views on the sanctions issue.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Wednesday at the United Nations that Washington will change its hard-line policy and engage in direct high-level talks with the junta as part of efforts to promote democracy.

She said that U.S. sanctions against members of Myanmar’s leadership would remain in place but that those measures would now be accompanied by outreach. For months, Mrs. Clinton had lamented that the sanctions alone were having little impact.

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