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Myanmar frees pro-democracy activist

Thwin Lin Aung, in his 30s, was arrested on March 5 as he prepared to leave on an international visitor programme.

world Updated: Apr 03, 2007 19:06 IST

Myanmar has released a pro-democracy activist who was arrested at Yangon airport last month as he was about to leave for the United States, fellow activists said on Tuesday.

Thwin Lin Aung, in his 30s, was arrested on March 5 as he prepared to leave on an international visitor programme sponsored by the US government. Activists said he was released by Myanmar's junta yesterday afternoon.

"He was mainly questioned by the officials about the activities of the American Centre," said Mya Aye, a prominent former student leader who helped lead an uprising against the military in 1988.

The American Centre is a education centre and library run by the US embassy here, which authorities treat with suspicion amid strained relations between the two countries.

The United States has lobbied the United Nations to chastise Myanmar over human rights abuses and slow democratic reform, and has itself imposed a slew of economic sanctions against the isolated regime.

Thwin Lin Aung was also a member of the student movement, and has served six years in prison for his involvement in a small student protest in 1996.

Mya Aye accused Myanmar's military government of trying to intimidate activists, and pointed to the recent unexplained closure of his family's transport businesses.

"Pro-democracy activists have been suffering the consequences of our political movements, not only in education but also in our business," he said.

The United Nations estimates there are about 1,100 political prisoners in Myanmar, which has been ruled by the military since 1962 and was formerly known as Burma.