Status of Zarganar and Zaw Thet Htway unknown

Jun 24, 2008 (DVB), The whereabouts of detained prominent comedian and social activist Zarganar and sports writer Zaw Thet Htway are still unknown, according to their relatives.

Rangoon's Western District police commissioner and other local officials took Zarganar from his house on 4 June. The police chief said they would hold him for two days to investigate if he had been involved in any political activity but he has not returned home since.

"It has been over two weeks since my son was arrested but I still don't know where he is and why he was detained," said Daw Kyin Oo, the comedian's mother.

Zaw Thet Htway was arrested in Minbu on 13 June while visiting his mother who had suffered a stroke. On his arrival into town local authorities told him to leave until he received further notice.

"My husband was only helping distribute aid to cyclone victims and focusing on his own business," said the writer's wife May Zaw.

"He has never been involved in any political activity so I thought he would be released within days. I am worried about him since I haven't heard anything from him."

Houses belonging to Zarganar and Zaw Thet Htway were thoroughly searched around the time of their arrests and authorities confiscated computers and other documents.

The comedian and the writer were had been working on relief efforts for cyclone-affected people in Rangoon and Irrawaddy divisions before they were detained.

Daw Kyi Oo said the arrest of her son and other private donors had disrupted the flow of aid to refugees.

"There is a shortage of supplies in warehouses and it has become difficult to continue with relief work because of the arrest of Zarganar, Zaw Thet Htway and others who were leading relief operations," she said.

Despite assurances of free access by private donors to cyclone-devastated areas of Burma, the military government continues to arrest individuals taking aid to survivors of the May storm.

According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, ten donors including Zarganar and Zaw Thet Htway have been arrested since the beginning of June.

Reporting by Htet Aung Kyaw and Yee May Aung

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