Burmese Blood Donation Volunteer Arrested

Irrawaddy, 4 April 2011,

Nay Myo Zin, a former Burmese military officer who works as a volunteer for a blood donation group affiliated with the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD), has been arrested by the Special Branch of Rangoon’s police for no apparent reason, according to family members.

Speaking to The Irrawaddy on Monday, his wife, Zin Myo Maw, said that her husband was taken off the street by the police on Saturday evening and that no reason was given.

“The Special Branch didn’t tell us what they were doing,” she said. “They just took him away.”

Zin Myo Maw said she heard that her husband was taken to Aung Thapyay detention centre in Mayangone Township in Rangoon, and that she had not been contacted by her husband since he was arrested. She said that his mobile phone had been switched off.

“He was simply working as a volunteer by helping collect donations of blood,” she said.

The authorities arrived at Nay Myo Zin’s home on Sunday and seized some of his documents,” she added.

Nay Myo Zin, 36, had served as a captain with the military police within the Burmese army until he was forced to retired in 2005 because he was involved with a political movement, said sources close to him.

His arrest would appear to contradict the substance of President Thein Sein’s inaugural speech last Wednesday when he called for the new government to cooperate with international organizations such as the United Nations, as well as international nongovernmental organizations and local nongovernmental organizations, said a Burma observer.

Nyi Nyi, one of the leaders of the NLD youth blood donation group, said he had previously hoped that their organization would have more opportunities now that a new government had been sworn in, but now his hopes “had quickly disappeared” following the arrest of Nay Myo Zin.

“We feel very depressed about Nay Myo Zin’s arrest,” he said. “He supported us and brought his own car to work. Without him, our group faces difficulties ahead.”

The NLD’s youth blood donor group was established in 2009 in Rangoon, and now has operations in Mandalay, Magwe and Sagaing. It has at least 10,000 members, said Nyi Nyi.

According to the Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners-Burma, there are currently 2,076 political prisoners in Burma.

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