Burma Sentences 4 Activists to Hard Labor as UN Human Rights Envoy Visits
Burma Sentences 4 Activists to Hard Labor as UN Human Rights Envoy Visits

A detained Burmese-American appeared weak and thin as he made a court appearance Friday in Burma's main city, Rangoon.

Burmese-born pro-democracy activist Kyaw Zaw Lwin, better known as Nyi Nyi Aung, was arrested in September on charges of forgery and violating foreign currency laws.

Attorney Nyan Win said he had little time to speak to his client during his brief court appearance, but that he learned the prisoner had ended his nearly two-week hunger strike.

Nyi Nyi Aung's lawyers say he was hoping to visit his ailing mother, who has been detained because of her own political activities. 

Nyi Nyi Aung resettled in the United States after fleeing Burma in the late 1980s.  Burmese authorities accuse him of returning to Burma to stir up protests.  The 2007 protests were brutally repressed.

The French news agency, AFP, quotes a letter by U.S. lawmakers calling for his immediate release.  They say he is being held for his pro-democracy activities, and that his detention raises doubts over efforts to improve relations between and the U.S.

His next expected court appearance is December 29.

Meanwhile, Burmese military rulers are quoted as saying they are disappointed Burma remains on a U.S. State Department list of countries failing to stop human trafficking.  Burmese authorities say they are doing all they can to address what is a complex issue.