Wed 12 Oct 2011
Filed under: Inside Burma,Media
Sein Kyaw Hlaing, a veteran Burmese journalist who previously worked in exile for the BBC Burmese Service and is currently a contributor to Radio Free Asia, issued a statement over the Internet on Sunday denying that he had taken any airplane flight to Rangoon or been detained at the airport and then interrogated by Burmese authorities at the Aung Tha Pyay interrogation center.He sent the statement by e-mail to popular Burmese blogger Dr Lun Swe, who posted it on his blog after speaking to Sein Kyaw Hlaing by telephone. The statement was then picked up and reposted by several other Burmese blogs.
On Sept. 6, The Irrawaddy wrote in a news story that, “Sein Kyaw Hlaing was reportedly detained and interrogated in Rangoon after accepting President Thein Sein’s offer to exiles to return home,” adding that, “It has not been disclosed whether Sein Kyaw Hlaing would be charged or just detained for interrogation.”
The Sept. 6 news report was based on the following statement made to The Irrawaddy—which was included in full in the article—by a friend of Sein Kyaw Hlaing: “I heard he [Sein Kyaw Hlaing] negotiated his return home with Burmese officials in Mae Sot after Thein Sein made his comments about exiles. He was reportedly detained shortly after he landed at the Rangoon airport. He is now believed to be at the Aung Tha Pyay interrogation center of the Special Branch.”
In his e-mail statement on Sunday, which was written in Burmese, Sein Kyaw Hlaing said that he had never returned to Rangoon by air from the time he began working with Radio Free Asia until the time he issued his statement, that he had not been detained at Mingalardon Airport in Rangoon and that he had not been interrogated at the Aung Tha Pyay interrogation center.
Sein Kyaw Hlaing also denied negotiating with officials from Burma’s Military Affairs Security (MAS), the formal name of Burma’s military intelligence unit, and said he did not have any contact with the MAS.
He said in his statement that in the week prior to President Thein Sein’s offer for Burmese exiles to return home, he was on a religious trip and was currently back at the Thai-Burma border.
However, Sein Kyaw Hlaing did not say in his statement whether or not he had returned to Burma—either before or after Thein Sein’s announcement—under circumstances other than those reported by The Irrawaddy.
On Sept. 8, The Voice, a Rangoon-based journal, reported that according to a reliable source Sein Kyaw Hlaing was traveling to his hometown of Taung Tha in central Burma and that he had been “questioned rather than arrested.”
Sein Kyaw Hlaing did not address the report by The Voice in his statement on Sunday.