Myanmar: Journalist detained

***UPDATE: English PEN strongly protests the fifteen year prison sentence handed down to journalist Zaw Thet Htwe on 21 November 2008 under the Electronics Act. For more information, please click here. ***


English PEN is seriously concerned about the detention of journalist Zaw Thet Htwe, who was arrested on 13 June 2008 after helping cyclone victims in the Irrawady Delta.

According to PEN’s information, Zaw Thet Htwe was arrested on 13 June 2008 whilst visiting his sick mother in the town of Minbu, central Burma, and transferred to an interrogation centre in Yangon. His computer, mobile phone, and personal documents were also confiscated. No details were given to his family about the reason for his arrest or his place of detention. 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 which struck on 2 May 2008. Zargana was himself arrested on 4 June 2008 after openly criticising the military regime’s response to the cyclone, and remains detained. There has been a widespread crackdown on attempts to report from the regions worst hit by the cyclone.

Zaw Thet Htwe formerly worked as editor of First Eleven Sports Journal, a popular sports journal in Myanmar, and was previously arrested in July 2003 on charges of treason following the publication of critical articles in the magazine. He was sentenced to death on 28 November 2003 by a military court in Insein Jail, but on 12 May 2004 the Supreme Court reduced his sentence to three years in prison and he was released in 2005. He also spent several years in detention in the 1990’s for his work with the banned political organisation ‘Democratic Party for a New Society’ which is now operating in exile.

Appeals to Myanmar (Burma) Embassies:

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.

· expressing serious concerns about the detention of journalist Zaw Thet Htwe, and seeking details of any charges agaisnt him;

· calling for his immediate and unconditional release if held in violation of Article 19 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Appeals to:

HE Dr Kyaw Win
Embassy of the Union of Myanmar
19A Charles Street

Letters to the press:

PEN members may consider writing letters to their national newspapers expressing alarm at events in Burma, and highlighting the cases of Zaw Thet Htwe and Zargana to illustrate the many years of repression in the country.


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