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Civil society groups have condemned the detention and alleged beating of a Burmese human rights activist by Kuala Lumpur airport immigration officials and have called for an investigation into the incident.
Aung Naing Win, Malaysian Relief Agency (MRA) country coordinator, was detained on 21 January on his way to attend the ASEAN Civil Society Conference (ACSC) and ASEAN People’s Forum (APF) in Selangor.
“When I arrived at the airport’s immigration desk I was referred to an office, so I went there and handed over my passport. About 10 minutes later, they told me to go and sit inside,” he told DVB.
“I asked them why but they did not answer,” he added.
He said that despite contacting both the MRA and the APF, he was sent to a detention centre and had his phone and other belongings seized.
“The plane landed at around 8:15pm. At around 8:30pm, they put me in a glass room. By midnight I was very hungry and I asked if I could get some food and water from my bag, but I was ignored.
“After about three more hours, I asked again. An official with two stripes on his shoulder came in to the room and punched me several times in the face. He also slapped me and punched me in the head. I told him they had to right to treat me in that way, but they kept on beating me.
“In the end, I stopped talking back and went to sit in a corner.”
Aung Naing Win was not able to make contact with the Burmese embassy in Kuala Lumpur as his phone had been confiscated.
He was informed by immigration officials the following day that he was on a blacklist. He was deported on 23 January.
He contacted the Malaysian embassy in Rangoon after arriving back in Burma but was told that they were unaware of the incident, and therefore could not provide any explanation.
Human rights organisation Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM), ACSC and AFP released a statement while Aung Naing Win was still in detention, “strongly condemning the arrest, detention, deportation and use of violence” towards the activist.
The statement says that officials inconsistently quoted reasons of “security” and “confusion of identity” for the detention, and that the Aung Naing Win was denied the right to speak to his lawyer and friends when they tried to contact him.
The organisations went on to call for an investigation into the incident and criticised the Malaysian government, saying the event “sends a message that they are tolerating and agreeing to the brutal, inhumane and heartless dictatorship regime in Myanmar.”