New York, June 3, 2004—Minn Kyaw, a Burmese journalist and pro-democracy activist living in Malaysia, was detained and harassed by people who claimed to be security officials on Tuesday, June 1, according to international news reports.
Kyaw, the editor of the Burmese-language news magazine Burma Media Link, was driving to the airport in Kuala Lumpur to cover the arrival of Burmese Prime Minister Khin Nyunt when two unmarked vehicles forced his car off the road. His wife, Yussra Shahril, was also in the car. According to an account that Kyaw and Shahril gave to local journalists, three men who identified themselves as security agents, approached the car, handcuffed Kyaw, and dragged him from the car, placing a black hood over his head.
The men drove Kyaw to an unknown location, where they put him in a large, windowless container and removed his hood. A woman accompanied by four men questioned him there. Her questions focused on Burma Media Link and Kyaw’s pro-democracy activism. She asked Kyaw why he wrote only negative things about Burma. The men assaulted Kyaw several times during the interrogation, and one accused Kyaw of being a spy.
The group threatened Kyaw, warning him not to tell anyone about his detention, and released him several hours later, after Khin Nyunt had left the country.
Burma Media Link‘s audience includes Burmese communities in Malaysia and other countries in Southeast Asia. The magazine often publishes commentary critical of Burmese authorities.
During Kyaw’s detention, his wife filed a police report alleging that the Malaysian Special Branch, which acts as the country’s internal security agency, was involved in her husband’s abduction. Superintendent Jamshah Mustapa, a police spokesman, denied any police knowledge or involvement and said the police are investigating the incident, according to news reports.
After his release, Kyaw filed a police complaint and submitted a report to Malaysia’s official Human Rights Commission requesting an investigation and protection by Malaysian authorities.
“The abduction of a journalist who is trying to do his work is very troubling,” said Ann Cooper, executive director of CPJ. “We call on Malaysian authorities to conduct a thorough and public investigation into Minn Kyaw’s detention.”