Zargana’s Sentence Reduced to 35 Years
International PEN has learned that the 59-year prison sentence handed down to leading comedian and poet Zargana has been commuted by 24 years. He must now serve 35 years in prison for his peaceful opposition activities and criticism of the government. PEN continues to demand 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.
According to the news agency Mizzima.com, on February 13, 2009, the Rangoon Division Court reduced Zargana’s prison term by 24 years. He still must serve the remaining 35 years in prison. Zargana’s relatives have announced that they will file an appeal against his conviction before the Supreme Court. He is currently serving his term at the Myitkyina prison in the Kachin state, northern Myanmar.
Maung Thura, aged 47, best known by his stage name, "Zargana” (also transcribed as "Zarganar"), was sentenced to 45 years imprisonment on November 21, 2008 for violating the Electronics Act, and then received an additional 14-year prison term on November 27, 2008 for offenses under four sections of the criminal code (17/2, 32 (b), 295 (a) and 505 (b)), for his peaceful opposition activities, making a total of 59 years.
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 tohave been targeted for his outspoken criticism of the government’s slow response to the cyclone, and for his opposition activities. Many other opposition activists have been condemned by the Burmese government to harsh sentences in recent months, including journalist Zaw Thet Hwe, poet Saw Wei, and musician Win Maw.
Write A Letter
- Demanding the immediate and unconditional release of Zargana, and of all those currently detained in Myanmar in violation of Article 19 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, protecting 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 March 18, 2009: ftw[at]pen.org