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The Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC) of International PEN has launched a month-long letter-writing campaign aimed at putting pressure on the Burmese military junta to free opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and nine imprisoned writers in Burma.

Despite considerable pressure from the international community, the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), which seized power in a military coup in 1988 and continues to commit gross human rights violations, has remained largely impervious, WiPC says.

On 30 May, negotiations between the Burmese military junta and Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) collapsed after authorities arrested the opposition leader and dozens of NLD members. Suu Kyi was detained following allegedly state-orchestrated clashes between her supporters and government sympathisers, WiPC says. Since then, authorities have cracked down on free expression, shutting down most of the NLD's offices and all of the country's universities and colleges.

WiPC is asking free-expression advocates to send appeals to Burmese authorities expressing serious concerns about the detention conditions of Suu Kyi and the following nine writers: Win Tin; Aung Myint; Ko Aung Tun; U Myo Htun; Khin Zaw Win; Kyaw Sein Oo; U Ohn Kyaing (Aung Wint); and U Sein Hla Oo.

Win Tin, a journalist who was awarded the 2001 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Award and the 2000 CJFE International Press Freedom Award, is serving one of the longest prison sentences among the nine writers: 20 years. He suffers from spondylitis, an inflammation of the vertebrae, diabetes and high blood pressure, WiPC says.

- Visit PEN's website to find out how to write an effective letter:
- Stay informed about Burma. View IFEX alerts and reports:

(Image courtesy of PEN Canada)

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