May 15, 2008

His Excellency U Myint Lwin
Chargé 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 Nations
Permanent Mission of the Union of Myanmar to the United Nations
10 East 77th Street
New York, NY 10021
Fax: (212) 744-1290

Your Excellencies,

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 serious concern for the well-being of leading Burmese musician Win Maw.

According to our information, popular Burmese musician Win Maw was arrested on November 27, 2007, and is being held in Insein Prison, Yangon, under article 5 (j) of the penal code for threatening national security. News of his arrest has become known to PEN only in recent days. If convicted, he faces up to seven years in prison. His arrest is thought to be part of the wider crackdown on pro-democracy activists.

It was reported on May 7, 2008, that Win Maw had been transferred to the prison hospital after a series of interrogation sessions carried out by officials of the Military Security Affairs. He is said to have suffered suspected collapsed lungs as a result of “water torture,” and to have now contracted pneumonia. His family have been denied access to him for over three weeks, and there are grave concerns for his welfare.

PEN American Center believes Win Maw has been detained in violation of his right to free expression as guaranteed by Article 19 of the United Nations Universal Declaration on Human Rights.  We therefore respectfully call upon the State Peace and Development Council to show its commitment to political dialogue in Myanmar by securing the immediate and unconditional release of Win Maw and all others detained in Myanmar for peaceful expression of their views.  

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Hannah Pakula                 
Chair, Freedom to Write Committee   

Larry Siems
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs

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