PEN International welcomes the release of leading musician Win Maw and prominent blogger Nay Phone Latt, who are among 651 prisoners to be freed as part of a presidential amnesty announced on January 13, 2012. News is still emerging, and full details of all those included in the amnesty have yet to be confirmed. PEN hopes that all those who remain detained in Myanmar in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which protects the right to freedom of expression, will soon be freed.

Background Information

According to PEN’s information, popular Burmese musician Win Maw was arrested on November 27, 2007, and sentenced to seven years in prison under Article 5 (j) of the penal code. He was charged with threatening national security with his song writing and reporting on the crackdown in Burma, which began in early September 2007 following demonstrations led by monks and pro-democracy activists. He was beaten and tortured during the early years of his detention. In 2009 he was sentenced to a further 10 years in prison.  Win Maw is lead guitarist in the music group Shwe Thansin, which was one of the top bands in Burma in the 1990’s. He was previously imprisoned from 1997-2003 for writing songs in support of Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD).
Prominent blogger and poet Nay Phone Latt was arrested on January 29, 2008, and sentenced to 20 years and six months in prison, reduced on appeal to 12 years, for critical writings published on his blog. He has continued to write poems in prison, and is an honorary member of American PEN.
PEN thanks all those who have supported Win Maw and Nay Phone Latt during their imprisonment and maintained international pressure on their case, which undoubtedly contributed to their release.

For further details on today’s amnesty see the Burmese news website Mizzima.
For more information and writings by Win Maw, including three new songs smuggled out of prison in February 2011, see Freemuse.

Write A Letter

  • Welcoming the release of leading comedian and poet Zargana, and calling for all restrictions against him to be lifted;
  • Demanding the immediate and unconditional release of all those currently detained in Myanmar in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Send Your Letter To

Chairman, State Peace and Development Council
Senior General Than Shwe
c/o Ministry of Defence, Naypyitaw, Union of Myanmar
Salutation: Dear General

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