November 25, 2008

Senior General Than Shwe
Chairman, State Peace and Development Council
c/o Ministry of Defense
Union of Myanmar

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 protest the 15-year sentence handed down to journalist Zaw Thet Htwe.

According to our information, on November 21, 2008, Zaw Thet Htwe was sentenced to 15 years in prison under the Electronics Act. He was arrested on June 13, 2008, while visiting his sick mother in the town of Minbu, and transferred to an interrogation center in Yangon. His computer, mobile phone, and personal documents were also confiscated. Prior to his arrest, Thet Htwe had been working with Zargana and other leading Burmese figures to privately deliver aid and support to the victims of Cyclone Nargis.

PEN American Center is seriously concerned that the conviction and harsh prison sentence imposed on Zaw Thet Htwe is part of wide crackdown against dissent in direct violation of Article 19 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees the right to freedom of expression. We therefore renew our call for his immediate and unconditional release, as well as the release of all others currently detained in Myanmar solely 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

CC:  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

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