PEN America Dismayed by Arrest of Myanmar Comedian, Activist
Social media reports say Zarganar was spirited from his home Tuesday on unspecified charges
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(New York, NY) — PEN America today expressed deep concern over Myanmar’s arrest of comedian and longtime activist Zarganar. Reports say he was taken from his home Tuesday. The 60 year old is a leading comedian, poet, and opposition activist in the country. He began his career in activism as a comedian and has for decades drawn national attention as a primary political commentator in Myanmar. His poetry has also been published in the PEN International anthology This Prison Where I Live.
“The arrest of Zarganar, who faced multiple detentions under the previous era of military rule, is a stark and deeply disturbing signal of how rapidly the situation in Myanmar is deteriorating,” said Karin Deutsch Karlekar, director of PEN America’s free expression at risk programs. “Assaults on influential cultural figures were a hallmark of the junta before the country’s democratic opening. The international community must not allow Myanmar to slide back into those dark times. We call for Zarganar’s immediate release, and the release of all those held unjustly for speaking out against the coup, and we urge the international community to press for a restoration of the elected government in Myanmar. There is no time to waste.”
While the legal basis of Zarganar’s arrest is unclear, the junta had recently issued arrest warrants charging at least 100 people in the literary, arts, and journalism fields with spreading information that undermines stability and rule of law. In 2011, Zarganar was released from a 35-year sentence for violating the Electronic Transactions Act, which regulates electronic communications, as a part of widespread general amnesty.
Read PEN America’s case page on Zarganar.