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FREEDOM NOW

1750 K Street, NW, Suite 350 x Washington, D.C. 20006 x +1 (202) 223-3733 x bschwanke@freedom-now.org

MEDIA RELEASE

For Immediate Release Contact: Beth Schwanke


December 22, 2009 +1 (202) 617-0744

AMERICAN IMPRISONED IN BURMA TORTURED FOR 15 DAYS:


FREEDOM NOW SUBMITS URGENT APPEAL
TO UN SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON TORTURE
Honorary Co–Chairs
The Honorable Washington – Today, Freedom Now submitted an urgent appeal to the UN Special
Václav Havel Rapporteur on Torture, Manfred Nowak, on American Nyi Nyi Aung’s behalf.
The Most Reverend
Desmond M. Tutu Nyi Nyi Aung, who has been unjustly imprisoned in Burma since September 3, 2009
Board of Directors is being subjected to torture by prison officials in Burma’s notorious Insein Prison.
President The torture is punishment for his hunger strike earlier this month protesting the
Jared Genser conditions of Burma’s political prisoners.
Chair
Jeremy Zucker Mr. Aung is being kept in what is known in Burma as “military dog cell”
Treasurer confinement. This means that he is kept in solitary confinement in an 8 x 10 cell.
Daniel Silverberg Military dogs are held directly across from his cell in order to subject him to almost
Secretary constant, high-volume barking. This treatment and resulting sleep deprivation clearly
Haylie Iseman meets the standard of cruel, inhuman and unusual treatment prohibited by multiple
Hillary Coyne Brill international treaties. Freedom Now believes that this treatment has been ongoing
Glenn Kaminsky since at least December 7, 2009, when Mr. Aung initiated his hunger strike.
Micheline Mendelsohn Information about this treatment has only now become available because of extended
Board of Advisors denial of access to him.
Prof. Karima Bennoune
Rutgers University
School of Law (Newark) Freedom Now President Jared Genser stated: “We hope that UN Special Rapporteur
Nowak will be able to persuade the Burmese junta to immediately stop torturing Nyi
Prof. Jerome A. Cohen
New York University Nyi. We also believe that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton must personally
Law School demand that the Burmese junta cease treating an American citizen in this manner.”
Irwin Cotler MP
Parliament of Canada
Mr. Aung, a well-known non-violent democracy activist, was arrested by Burmese
Harry C. McPherson authorities on September 3, 2009. He was attempting to visit his mother, also an
DLA Piper US LLP
imprisoned democracy activist, who has cancer. Mr. Aung is falsely accused of using
Nuala Mole
AIRE Centre a forged Burmese national identity card and illegally importing currencies into the
country. He is currently on trial for these alleged violations.
Prof. A.W. Brian Simpson
Michigan Law School

Prof. Christopher
The Burmese junta has deprived Mr. Aung of his right to U.S. consular access since
McCrudden December 3, 2009. He was also deprived of this right during the first seventeen days
Oxford University
of his detention. Mr. Aung was also tortured during this initial period of his
The Honorable detention. He was deprived of food and sleep, beaten, and denied medical treatment.
Patricia M. Wald

Executive Director
###
Maran Turner

Our mission is to free prisoners of conscience through focused legal, political, and public relations advocacy efforts.
FREEDOM NOW
1750 K Street, NW, Suite 350 • Washington, D.C. 20006 • +1 (202) 223-3733 • bschwanke@freedom-now.org

December 22, 2009

The Honorable Manfred Nowak


Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading
Treatment or Punishment
c/o Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
United Nations Office at Geneva
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Honorary Co–Chairs Switzerland
The Honorable
Václav Havel Dear Special Rapporteur Nowak:
The Most Reverend
Desmond M. Tutu We write to request urgent action in the case of Kyaw Zaw Lwin (Nyi Nyi Aung)
Board of Directors detained in Burma’s Insein Prison. In addition to prior incidents of torture, Mr. Aung
President is currently subjected to what is known in Burma as “military dog cell” confinement.
Jared Genser It is Freedom Now’s understanding that this means that Mr. Aung is held in solitary
Chair confinement in an 8 x 10 cell. Prison officials keep military dogs directly across the
Jeremy Zucker hall, subjecting Mr. Aung to almost constant barking. Mr. Aung has reportedly been
Treasurer enduring this treatment since at least December 7, 2009; fifteen days.
Daniel Silverberg

Secretary Freedom Now believes that this treatment rises to the level of torture or, at a
Haylie Iseman minimum, cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, given its duration and
Hillary Coyne Brill interference with his ability to sleep, and requests your urgent assistance.
Glenn Kaminsky
Micheline Mendelsohn I. Identity of Person Subjected to Torture
Board of Advisors a. Family name: Lwin
Prof. Karima Bennoune b. First name: Kyaw Zaw (other name: Nyi Nyi Aung)1
Rutgers University
School of Law (Newark) c. Sex: Male
d. Birth date: October 28, 1969
Prof. Jerome A. Cohen
New York University e. Nationality: American
Law School f. Occupation: Democracy activist
Irwin Cotler MP g. Identity card number: U.S. Passport Number XXXXXXX
Parliament of Canada
h. Activities: Non-violent democracy and human rights activist
Harry C. McPherson i. Residential address: XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
DLA Piper US LLP
Montgomery Village, MD 20886 USA
Nuala Mole
AIRE Centre
II. Circumstances Surrounding Torture
Prof. A.W. Brian Simpson
Michigan Law School

Prof. Christopher
a. Date and place of arrest and subsequent torture:
McCrudden
Oxford University
Mr. Aung was arrested on September 3, 2009, at Rangoon Airport, Burma. He was
The Honorable moved from interrogation center to interrogation center throughout Burma where he
Patricia M. Wald
was tortured, including: food and sleep deprivation for seven days, beatings, and
Executive Director
denial of medical treatment.
Maran Turner

1
Kyaw Zaw Lwin is Mr. Aung’s legal name. However, his childhood nickname is Nyi Nyi Aung and this is how he is
referred to by his family and colleagues.

Our mission is to free prisoners of conscience through focused legal, political, and public relations advocacy efforts.
The most recent incident of torture is at Insein Prison, Burma. As punishment for undertaking a hunger strike, Mr.
Aung was placed in solitary confinement on December 7, 2009. Prison officials keep military dogs directly
across from his cell. The military dogs bark almost constantly at extremely loud volumes. This has led to sleep
deprivation.

b. Identity of force carrying out the initial detention and/or torture:

The initial detention of Mr. Aung was carried out by the Burmese Special Branch. Freedom Now assumes the
initial torture was also carried out by the Burmese Special Branch.

Freedom Now believes that the most recent incidents of torture are being carried out by Insein Prison officials.

c. Were any person, such as a lawyer, relatives or friends, permitted to see the victim during
detention? If so, how long after the arrest?

No lawyers, U.S. Embassy officials, relatives, or friends were allowed to see Mr. Aung during the first 17 days of
his confinement. Subsequently, Mr. Aung has been allowed to see his lawyers sporadically. He was allowed to
see his family weekly; due to his hunger strike, this has been diminished to biweekly. Mr. Aung has not been
granted consular access since December 3, 2009.

d. Describe the methods of torture used

During the initial incidents of torture, Mr. Aung was denied food and sleep for 7 days. He was repeatedly beaten.
He was also denied medical treatment.

With respect to this most recent incident of torture, as punishment for his hunger strike protesting the conditions
of political prisoners in Burma, Mr. Aung has been moved to solitary confinement in what is known in Burma as
“military dog cell” confinement. He is kept in an 8 x 10 cell. Freedom Now believes that he is only allowed to
go to the bathroom on a tray kept in his cell. There are reports that he is allowed out of his cell once a day to
wash his face. Prison officials keep military dogs across from his cell. The dogs bark almost constantly at loud
volumes. This is leading to extreme sleep deprivation. Freedom Now believes this treatment began December 7,
2009, if not before.

e. What injuries were sustained as a result of the torture?

The initial torture led to physical injuries, from which we believe Mr. Aung has now mostly healed.
However, these most recent incidents of torture will certainly lead to more lasting injuries if not immediately
stopped. Fifteen days of sleep deprivation can lead to extremely serious health consequences. Given that Mr.
Aung is in a weakened condition from the initial torture, poor conditions at Insein Prison, and his hunger strike;
Freedom Now is gravely concerned for his well-being.

f. What was believed to be the purpose of the torture?

Freedom Now believes the purpose of the initial torture was to force Mr. Aung to confess to false crimes in order
to imprison him and prevent his non-violent democracy activities.

Freedom Now believes the purpose of the current incident is to punish Mr. Aung for going on a hunger strike to
protest the conditions of political prisoners.

g. Was the victim examined by a doctor at any point during or after his/her ordeal? If so, when?
Was the examination performed by a prison or government doctor?

Our mission is to free prisoners of conscience through focused legal, political, and public relations advocacy efforts.
FREEDOM NOW
1750 K Street, NW, Suite 350 • Washington, D.C. 20006 • +1 (202) 223-3733 • bschwanke@freedom-now.org

MEDIA RELEASE

For Immediate Release Contact: Beth Schwanke


December 18, 2009 +1 (202) 617-0744

FREEDOM NOW HAILS CALL OF 53 MEMBERS OF U.S. HOUSE OF


REPRESENTATIVES URGING IMMEDIATE RELEASE OF AMERICAN
NYI NYI AUNG IMPRISONED IN BURMA
Honorary Co–Chairs
The Honorable WASHINGTON: A bipartisan group of 53 members of the United States House of
Václav Havel Representatives, led by Chairman Howard Berman (D-CA) of the House Foreign
The Most Reverend Affairs Committee and Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), Co-Chair of the Tom Lantos
Desmond M. Tutu Human Rights Commission, has urged Burma’s junta leader Than Shwe to
Board of Directors immediately release American and Gaithersburg, Maryland resident Nyi Nyi Aung.
President In the letter, dated yesterday and attached, the Congressmen declared:
Jared Genser

Chair “The detention of an American citizen under these circumstances has caused alarm
Jeremy Zucker among many Members of the United States Congress, and raises serious doubts about
Treasurer your government’s willingness to improve relations with the United States . . . We
Daniel Silverberg urge you in the strongest possible terms to immediately and unconditionally release
Secretary Mr. Aung and allow him to return to the United States.”
Haylie Iseman

Hillary Coyne Brill Other signatories to the letter include House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD),
Glenn Kaminsky Assistant to the Speaker Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Rep. Dan Rohrabacher
Micheline Mendelsohn (R-CA), ranking member on the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on
Board of Advisors International Organizations, Human Rights, and Oversight.
Prof. Karima Bennoune
Rutgers University
School of Law (Newark) Freedom Now President Jared Genser stated: “We hope that this important
intervention by such a prominent group of Members of Congress will make clear to
Prof. Jerome A. Cohen
New York University the Burmese junta that the United States will first look to the treatment of one of its
Law School own citizens in assessing the junta’s willingness to engage in dialogue.”
Irwin Cotler MP
Parliament of Canada
Mr. Aung, a democracy activist, was arrested by Burmese authorities on September 3,
Harry C. McPherson 2009. He was attempting to visit his mother, also an imprisoned democracy activist,
DLA Piper US LLP
who has cancer. Mr. Aung is falsely accused of using a forged Burmese identity card
Nuala Mole
AIRE Centre and illegally importing currencies into the country. He is on trial for these alleged
violations and is detained in Burma’s notorious Insein prison.
Prof. A.W. Brian Simpson
Michigan Law School

Prof. Christopher
The Burmese junta has deprived Mr. Aung of his right to U.S. consular access since
McCrudden December 3, 2009. He was also deprived of this right during the first 17 days of his
Oxford University
detention. In addition to this violation of international law, Burmese authorities
The Honorable tortured Mr. Aung. He was deprived of food and sleep, beaten, and denied medical
Patricia M. Wald
treatment. He is also being denied his rights under Burmese law to a public trial and
Executive Director
access to counsel.
Maran Turner
###

Our mission is to free prisoners of conscience through focused legal, political, and public relations advocacy efforts.