January 31, 2008

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

His Excellency U Kyaw Tint Swe
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the United States
Permanent Mission of the Union of Myanmar to the United States
10 East 77th Street
New York, NY 10021
Fax: (212) 744-1290

Your Excellencies,

On behalf of the 3,400 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 grave concern regarding the detention of leading Burmese poet Saw Wai.

According to our information, Saw Wai was arrested on January 22, 2008 for publishing a love poem which cryptically criticized the government. The poem, entitled “February the Fourteenth” was published in that week’s issue of the Rangoon-based weekly magazine Love Journal, and is an eight-line verse about Valentine’s Day. Furthermore, we are distressed by the news that when Saw Wai’s wife, Nan San San Aye, attemped to see her husband in Insein prison on January 28, 2008, she was denied access to him. No information has been made public about his detention or any charges against him, and he continues to be detained incommunicado.

PEN American Center believes Saw Wai has been detained in violation of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, both of which Myanmar has signed. We therefore respectfully call for Saw Wai’s immediate and unconditional release, as well as the release of all those currently detained in violation of their right to freedom of expression and association.

Thank you for your attention.

Hannah Pakula                   
Chair, Freedom to Write Committee   

Larry Siems
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs

> > Back to Rapid Action