English PEN’s Writers in Prison Committee has long been concerned about the human rights violations in Burma, where the ruling military junta has for many years suppressed almost all dissent and wields absolute power in the face of international condemnation and sanctions.

Nevertheless, we were shocked and horrified by the staggeringly harsh sentences handed down to poet and leading comedian Zargana and journalist Zaw Thet Htwe in November last year. Zargana was sentenced to a total of 59 years in jail, and Zaw Thet Htwe to 15 years, for organising the relief effort following Cyclone Nargis, which hit Burma in May 2008.

These shocking sentences made us even more determined to raise, or rather maintain, public awareness about the human rights situation in Burma, and to continue to put pressure on the authorities in Myanmar.

On 14 May 2009, we became even more deeply concerned about the situation in Burma, when English PEN Honorary Member and Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi was charged with breaching the conditions of her house arrest. We were extremely disappointed to learn that on 11 August 2009 she was sentenced to a further 18 months under house arrest, in an obvious attempt to prevent her from participating in the elections that have been scheduled for next year.

English PEN has recently been involved in a number of events and activities in order to raise greater awareness about the current situation in Burma, and will continue to promote and support events with a similar goal until we see a notable improvement in the situation.





Burmese Arts Festival – 14 – 17 October 2010



Burmese Arts Festival Fundraiser – 30 July 2010

Free Zarganar! – An afternoon of comedy, poetry, performance and dance

Love and Hate in Burma – A Poetry Protest


‘Let Me Out of Hell’


Breaking through the Silence


Aung San Suu Kyi’s Birthday Celebrations


64 for Suu


Global Action Day – 18 May 2009


Petition to Free Burma’s Political Prisoners


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