JUNE 5, 2004 SAT

Myanmar activist tells of kidnap in Malaysia

Journalist also accuses Yangon intelligence agents of assault and says he thought he was going to die

KUALA LUMPUR - A Myanmar political activist and journalist has described how he was kidnapped and assaulted in Malaysia by a group of people he believed to be Myanmar intelligence agents.
Activist and journalist Minn Kyaw has UN refugee status in Malaysia. -- AFP
The kidnap and assault was said to have occurred on the day Myanmar Prime Minister General Khin Nyunt visited Malaysia.
Mr Minn Kyaw, 26, was freed late on Tuesday, 13 hours after his car was forced off the road.
He and his Malaysian wife, Yussra Shahril, had been on their way to Kuala Lumpur's International Airport to cover the story of Gen Khin Nyunt's arrival.
Asked if he recognised any of his assailants, he said he had seen three of them previously.
'I believe they were Myanmar intelligence officers,' he told investigators.
Mr Minn Kyaw was speaking to reporters and a commissioner with the government-backed Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam).
After hearing his story, commissioner Hamdan Adnan called on the government to investigate and prevent similar acts by foreign agents.
'Those people are breaking Malaysia's law. Appropriate action must be taken.
'Surely, if nothing is done, it could become a trend,' he said.
Mr Minn Kyaw, who has United Nations refugee status in Malaysia, is the editor of a website called Burma Media Link which supports detained democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi.
He said that after being hauled from his car and shoved into another vehicle he was driven for 30 minutes and then put in a shipping container.
'I was the only one there and I feared they were going to kill me,' he said.
After some time, a woman wearing a red dress and yellow star chain on her neck entered the container.
She was accompanied by a group of four other people.
'The woman, who I believe is a Burmese, spoke very well in Burmese. She asked me about our movement in Malaysia.
'She said I only write negative things about our country,' he said.
Mr Minn Kyaw said he was also asked who was financing his activities and how much he was being paid.
'At this point, I was punched and assaulted when they were not happy with my answer.'
Mr Minn Kyaw said he was accused of being a spy and was again assaulted.
'They also asked me why I supported Aung San Suu Kyi.
'After their interrogation and intimidation, they covered my head. I feared for my life and thought that I would be murdered,' he said.
Mr Minn Kyaw sought protection from Suhakam against possible deportation and asked the organisation to help him secure a quick resettlement to a third country as he feared for his security in Malaysia.
Gen Khin Nyunt received a red-carpet welcome and held talks with his Malaysian counterpart, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, on his brief visit to Kuala Lumpur.
It was his first stop on a South-east Asian tour and came amid fresh criticism of Yangon's approach to democratic reform.
There are about 500,000 Myanmar citizens in Malaysia comprising foreign workers, asylum seekers and refugees. -- AFP

Parent site: "Focus on Malaysia"