November 3, 2008

His Excellency U Myint Lwin
Chargé d’Affaires
Embassy of the Union of Myanmar to the U.S.
2300 S St. NW
Washington, DC 20008
Fax: (202) 332-4351

Your Excellency,

On behalf of the 3,300 members of PEN American Center, an international organization of writers dedicated to protecting freedom of expression wherever it is threatened, we are writing to express our serious concern regarding the detention of journalist Ohn Kyaing.

According to our information, on October 1, 2008, Ohn Kyaing was arrested at his home in Rangoon by the Special Intelligence Police Unit. The authorities have not yet made public the reason for his arrest, but it has been reported that Ohn Kyaing was a member of the Cyclone Nargis Emergency Relief Committee, just like comedian Zargana and journalist Zaw Thet Hwe, two other leading activists detained for their roles in relief efforts.

Ohn Kyaing was an elected Member of Parliament for the National League for Democracy in the 1990 elections, which the Burmese military regime refused to recognize. He was also a translator, editor, and wrote articles for the publications Hanthawaddy and Botahtaung under the pen name Aung Wint. Ohn Kyaing was previously arrested on September 6, 1990, and sentenced to 17 years in prison for “writing and distributing seditious pamphlets and threatening state security.” He was released from Taungoo Prison on January 3, 2005, as part of a general amnesty. 

PEN American Center is seriously concerned that Ohn Kyaing is being detained in direct violation of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and therefore respectfully calls for his immediate and unconditional release, as well as the release of all others currently detained in violation of their right to freedom of expression.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Hannah Pakula                   
Chair, Freedom to Write Committee

Larry Siems   
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs

CC:  His Excellency U Kyaw Tint Swe
Ambassador to the United Nations
Permanent Mission of the Union of Myanmar to the United Nations
10 East 77th Street
New York, NY 10021
Fax: (212) 737-242

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