Musician Win Maw Arrested
International PEN is gravely concerned for the well-being of leading Burmese musician Win Maw, who was arrested on November 27, 2007, and is said to be seriously ill as a result of torture in detention. PEN seeks immediate assurances of Saw Wai’s well-being and guarantees that he is receiving all necessary medical treatment. PEN calls for his immediate and unconditional release, as well as of all those currently detained in Myanmar in violation of Article 19 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Popular Burmese musician Win Maw was arrested on November 27, 2007, and is held in Insein Prison, Yangon, under article 5 (j) of the penal code for threatening national security. PEN received news of his arrest only in recent days. If convicted, Maw faces up to seven years in prison. His arrest is thought to be part of the wider crackdown on pro-democracy activists.
Win Maw is lead guitarist in the music group Shwe Thansin, which was one of the top bands in Burma in the 1990s. He was previously imprisoned from 1997 to 2003 for writing songs in support of Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the opposition National League for Democracy. It is thought that his current detention may also be linked to his song writing.
On May 7, 2008, Win Maw was reportedly transferred to the prison hospital after a series of interrogations carried out by officials from Military Security Affairs. He is said to have suffered collapsed lungs as a result of "water torture" and to have contracted pneumonia. His family has been denied access to him for over three weeks, and there are grave concerns for his welfare.
A major crackdown in Burma has been under way since early September 2007, following demonstrations by monks and pro-democracy activists that began on August 19, 2007. Writers and journalists are among the scores of people who have been detained. All arrested in the crackdown are now thought to have been freed, but many remain under heavy restriction. The authorities continue to crack down on any expressions of dissent.
Send Your Letter To
While the situation in Burma is still critical, letters sent to the country may not be received or taken as a priority. It is therefore recommended that appeals be sent to the diplomatic representative of Myanmar (Burma) in your own country:
- protesting the detention of leading musician Win Maw, and expressing grave concern for his well-being;
- demanding his immediate and unconditional release and the release of all those currently detained in Myanmar in violation of Article 19 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
PEN members may consider writing letters to their national newspapers expressing alarm at events in Burma, and highlighting Win Maw’s case to illustrate the many years of repression in the country.