22 October 2008

BURMESE COMEDIAN WINS PEN CANADA'S HUMANITY AWARD


Zarganar, the leading Burmese poet, comedian and activist who is currently being detained for criticising the Burmese junta's handling of the cyclone that hit the country in May, has been honoured with PEN Canada's 2008 One Humanity Award.

Zarganar, whose real name is Maung Thura, was arrested in June for criticising the Burmese junta's handling of Cyclone Nargis and organising relief efforts for its victims - which could land him 15 years in jail.

Not that jail is anything new for him. Zarganar, as a leading voice of the pro-democracy movement, has been arrested at least four times since 1988, including for supporting the monks in the Rangoon protests last September.

In May 1990, he was arrested for impersonating General Saw Maung, former head of the military government. He served four years of a five-year sentence, during which time he was banned from reading and writing - so he scratched poems on the floor of his cell with a piece of pottery and committed them to memory.

He continues to be banned from performing and stripped of his freedom to write and publish.

The PEN Canada One Humanity Award honours someone "whose work has transcended the boundaries of national divides and inspired connections across cultures." PEN Canada says, "One such writer is our Honorary Member Zarganar, whose steadfast courage and integrity over many years we are honouring by granting him the One Humanity Award."

The CAD$5,000 award (US$4,000) is being given in absentia on 22 October at a PEN Canada benefit in Toronto.

For more information about Zarganar and samples of his work, see: http://www.pencanada.ca
(22 October 2008)



Burma

IFEX members working in this country 1

 
More from Burma
  • Freedom on the Net 2017: Myanmar

    At least 61 people were prosecuted for online speech under the new NLD administration, a dramatic increase from last year; several were held for weeks without bail, and some were sentenced to prison

  • Freedom of the Press 2017: Myanmar

    Journalist Soe Moe Tun was murdered in December while reporting on the illegal logging industry. Separately, two journalists were threatened by bomb blasts outside their homes.

  • Burma HRW Report: Events of 2016

    Restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression and assembly persist, amid the government's failure to contend with the range of rights-abusing laws that have been long used to criminalize free speech and prosecute dissidents.As part of the military's "clearance operations" in northern Rakhine State, where thousands of Rohingya Muslims face rampant and systemic human rights violations, the authorities denied independent journalists access to the region since early October.

 
More from Asia & Pacific
  • TRUTH VS MISINFORMATION: THE COLLECTIVE PUSH BACK

    SOUTH ASIA PRESS FREEDOM REPORT 2018-2019

  • The Campaign for Justice: Press Freedom in South Asia 2013-14

    Journalism in South Asia is far from an easy profession, as the 12th annual review of journalism in the region "The Campaign for Justice: Press Freedom in South Asia 2013-14" portrays. But this year's report also tells the story of the courage of South Asia's journalists to defend press freedom and to ensure citizens' right to information and freedom of expression in the face of increasing challenges to the profession and personal safety.

  • THE STORIES WOMEN JOURNALISTS TELL: Women in Media in South Asia

    The report is the first created by the South Asia Media Solidarity Network (SAMSN) looking specifically at the experience of women journalists in the South Asia sub-region