Ko Aung Htun, a writer and former student activist, was imprisoned
in Burma between 1990 and 1995 for organizing student demonstrations
against military rule. After his release, he wrote a seven-volume
history of the student movement in Burma. In February 1998 he was
re-arrested and sentenced to a total of 17 years imprisonment, charged with violation of censorship laws and unlawful association
with any organization deemed by authorities to be against state
interests. He has been tortured during interrogation, and there are serious
concerns about his health and safety.
U Thein Sein
Office of the President
Replublic of the Union of Burma
Minister Counselor U Myint Lwin
Chargé d’Affaires Ad Interim
Embassy of Myanmar
2300 S Street, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Salutation: Dear Sir
I am writing to you to express my grave concern over the case of Ko Aung Htun, arrested in February 1998 and reportedly tortured under interrogation. In a press conference after his arrest authorities accused him of writing and illegally printing “largely exaggerated and biased accounts of events”, referring to his articles and books on the student movement. In April 1998 he was sentenced to a total of 17 years imprisonment: seven years under Section 5j of the 1950 Emergency Provision Act; seven years under the 1962 Printers and Publishers Registration Act; and three years under the Unlawful Associations Act.
I am concerned that the use of these emergency powers to silence writers like Ko Aung Htun constitutes a grave threat to freedom of expression and research. I urge you to conduct a prompt investigation into the trial and imprisonment of Ko Aung Htun, as well as the accusations of torture, and his current medical condition.
I respectfully await your response to this matter of great importance.