PEN International is delighted by the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the Burmese National League for Democracy (NLD), on November 13, 2010. PEN calls on the Myanmar junta to further the cause of reconciliation by releasing all political prisoners unconditionally and to remove all restrictions on free expression in the media, literature, and the performing and visual arts, in accordance with Article 19 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Background Information

According to PEN’s information, Aung San Suu Kyi was released unconditionally when her latest house arrest order expired on November 13, 2010. She has spent much of the past 20 years in detention, and for the past 18 months was held under Section 22 of the State Protection Law for “subversion” following an incident in which a U.S. citizen swam across the lake to her home and thereby violated the ban on her meeting with anyone without prior permission.
PEN calls attention to the estimated 2,000 other political prisoners currently languishing in Burma’s notorious jails. Among them are eight writers who are serving long sentences for simply exercising their universal right to free expression. They include Zargana, a leading comedian, actor and poet, who was arrested in June 2008 after leading a private relief effort to deliver aid to victims of Cyclone Nargis. Zargana is serving a 35-year sentence for his outspoken criticism of the government and his opposition activities. He is held in isolated conditions in Myitkyina Prison, and there are mounting concerns for his health in detention.
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, daughter of Burma’s independence hero General Aung San, became leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD) in September 1988, and in 1991 led the NLD to a landslide election victory, which has never been recognized by the military government. Prior to this she had lived in the UK for many years, where she raised two sons with her late husband, British academic Michael Aris, who died in March 1999 of cancer. Aung San Suu Kyi has spent a large part of the past 20 years in detention in Yangon, much of it in solitary confinement. She was held under de facto house arrest for six years from July 1989 to July 1995, and again from September 2000 until May 2002, when she was released as part of UN-brokered confidential talks between the State Peace and Development Council and the NLD, which began in October 2000. On May 30, 2003 she was taken into "protective custody" following a government-sponsored attack on her and her supporters, and was then held under renewable one-year detention orders until her arrest in 2009. 

Aung San Suu Kyi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in October 1991. She is the author of many books, including Freedom From Fear (1991), Letters from Burma (1997), and The Voice of Hope (1997).

Write A Letter

  • Welcoming the release of opposition leader and writer Daw Aung San Suu Kyi;
  • Calling for the immediate and unconditional release of all those who remain detained in Myanmar in violation of Article 19 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Send Your Letter To

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

Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for Myanmar in your country if possible.