International PEN is alarmed by reports that imprisoned leading comedian and poet Zargana is in poor health and has not been given full access to medical care and family visits. Zargana is serving 35 years in prison for his peaceful opposition activities and criticism of the government of Myanmar. PEN seeks assurances of Zargana’s well being, and urges that he be granted full access to family visits and the specialized medical care he requires. PEN continues to call for Zargana’s immediate and unconditional release in accordance with Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which protects the right to freedom of expression.

Background Information

According to PEN’s information, Zargana, age 48, recently collapsed at the Myitkyina Prison in Kachin State, northern Myanmar, where he is being held. He is said to be suffering from heart problems, jaundice, and a stomach ulcer. Zargana was taken to Myitkyina Hospital where he underwent several tests, but the specialist medical care he requires is reportedly not available there. Furthermore, Zargana has been denied full access to family visits, and there are serious concerns for his well being.

Zargana was arrested on the evening of June 4, 2008, after leading a private relief effort to deliver aid to victims of Cyclone Nargis, which struck on May 2, 2008. He is believed to be targeted for his outspoken criticism of the government’s slow response to the cyclone, as well as his opposition activities. Many other opposition activists have been condemned by the government to harsh sentences in recent months, including journalist Zaw Thet Htwe, poet Saw Wei and musician Win Maw.

Write A Letter

  • Expressing serious concern for Zargana’s well being, and urging that he be given full access to specialist medical care and be allowed family visits as a matter of urgency;
  • Demanding the immediate and unconditional release of Zargana, and of all those currently detained in Myanmar in violation of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which protects the right to freedom of expression.

Send Your Letter To

Senior General Than Shwe
Chairman, State Peace and Development Council
c/o Ministry of Defense
Union of Myanmar

Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for Myanmar in your country asking them to forward it to the authorities and welcoming any comments.

Volunteers may consider writing letters to their national newspapers expressing alarm at events in Burma, and highlighting Zargana’s case to illustrate the many years of repression in the country.

Please check with PEN if sending appeals after May 27, 2009: ftw[at]