Thursday, June 05, 2008


Another prominent activist has been arrested in Myanmar.

The man, Zarganar,Zarganar, also known as Ko Thura (pictured here), the country's best known comedian, was arrested at his house in Rangoon.

His crime appears to be that he has been providing relief to the many poor people impacted by last month's cyclone.

Friends said he also faced prosecution for mocking comments made by the Junta about aid to victims of the cyclone.

According to the Democratic Voice of Burma Rangoon’s Western District police commissioner and other local officials came to Zarganar’s house at 8pm on Wednesday.

“There were nine of them, including the Western District police chief, five officers from police special branch and two Ward PDC members,” the comedian’s family member said.

“They showed up at 8pm and searched the whole house until 10.45pm. Then they took him away; they said they would be holding him for a while.”

The authorities also confiscated a computer, VCDs of Rambo 4, a CD of the wedding of senior general Than Shwe’s daughter, CDs about the lives destroyed by Cyclone Nargis, 30 Foreign Exchange Certificates and two ledger books from Zarganar’s house.

“The police chief said they would take Ko Thura in for two days to investigate if he has been involved in any political activity,” the family member told DVB.

In a recent interview with The Irrawaddy, Zarganar said the authorities had tried to interfere with his relief missions.

“At the beginning, we took risks, and we had to move forward on our own. Sometimes we had confrontations with the authorities,” he said. “For example, they asked us why we were going on our own without consulting them and wanted us to negotiate with them. They said they couldn't guarantee our lives.”

The following is from Asia News it.

Famous Burmese actor arrested for helping cyclone victims

He brought vital aid to the victims of cyclone Nargis and he spoke with International media denouncing junta corruption in Myanmar, this was why yesterday evening the country’s most famous comic actor, Zarganar, was arrested. The news was broken this morning by The Irrawaddy, citing sources close to the artist. Around 22.30 nine officials took him into custody The officials searched Zarganar’s Tangon home and seized his computer and CD’s documenting the disaster zones ( in the Irrawaddy and Yangon divisions)as well as thousands of dollars in cash which he had collected for survivors. The artist had already been arrested in October 2007. On that occasion he had publically sided in favour of the Buddhist monks peaceful protests which were bloodily repressed.

The authorities reportedly said Zarganar would be held for two or three days for questioning about the sources of the money he collected for cyclone victims. Friends said he also faced prosecution for mocking an article in the state-run newspaper The New Light of Myanmar, which said cyclone survivors could exist on what they could scavenge in the countryside rather than on “chocolate bars” from western air groups.

Zarganar organized relief missions into the cyclone-hit areas and returned with personal accounts of the terrible hardship he had encountered there. He recruited more than 400 volunteers and divided them into groups of helpers, who took aid to 42 villages, some of which had until then received no help at all after the cyclone. He ignored official instructions not to talk to the foreign press, who valued him as a reliable source of information about the situation in the Irrawaddy delta and Rangoon Division. According to some the regime is trying to disrupt the aid process. By arresting Zarganar, the authorities are hoping to intimidate other helpers and donors.

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