Journalist Zaw Thet Htwe Sentenced
International PEN protests the 15-year prison sentence handed down to journalist Zaw Thet Htwe on November 21, 2008 under the Electronics Act. He was arrested on June 13, 2008 after leading a private effort to deliver aid to cyclone Nargis’ victims. He is among a number of leading dissidents to have been sentenced in recent days in special courts held inside Insein prison for their peaceful opposition activities, many to staggeringly harsh sentences. PEN condemns these sentences and demands the immediate and unconditional release of all those currently detained in Myanmar in violation of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, protecting the right to freedom of expression.
According to PEN’s information, journalist Zaw Thet Htwe was arrested on June 13, 2008 while visiting his sick mother in the town of Minbu, central Burma, and was transferred to an interrogation center in Yangon. His computer, mobile phone, and personal documents were also confiscated. Zaw Thet Htwe had been working with comedian Zargana and other leading Burmese figures to deliver aid and support to the victims of Cyclone Nargis. Zaw Thet Htwe was tried together with three other defendants, including Zargana, who all received sentences ranging from 15 to 45 years. All four still face charges, and more years are expected to be added to the sentences next week, according to Aung Din of the Washington-based U.S. Campaign for Burma.
A major crackdown in Burma has been underway since early September 2007, following demonstrations led by monks and pro-democracy activists which began on August 19, 2007. Many of those who took part in these protests, including Zargana, poet Saw Wei and musician Win Maw have been sentenced in the past two weeks in what the BBC describes as "a judicial crackdown across the spectrum of Burma's pro-democracy movement."
Write A Letter
- Protesting the harsh sentence handed down to journalist Zaw Thet Htwe and demanding his immediate and unconditional release;
- Demanding the immediate and unconditional release of all those currently 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 asking them to forward it to the authorities and welcoming any comments.
Volunteers may consider writing letters to their national newspapers expressing alarm at events in Burma, and highlighting Zaw Thet Htwe’s case to illustrate the many years of repression in the country.