Zarganar cautions against ‘Burma Spring’

Now is not the time for Burmese to take to the streets and attempt to bring down the government, popular comedian Zarganar has warned.

Despite spending the past three years in a cell in Myitkyina prison in northernBurma, the 50-year-old says he was able to keep up to date with local and global developments.

“I read about the Arab Spring and the changes caused by it, and that Gaddafi has not been caught yet,” he told DVB, referring to the popular protests that have brought down several governments in northern Africa and the Middle East. His comments echo ones made earlier in the year by Aung San Suu Kyi, who said an uprising was not the solution for Burma

“I don’t know what will happen in next two years [in Burma] but for the time being, I don’t think we need something like it. In my opinion, this is not the time to be protesting in the streets.”

Following months of protests in the Arab world, rumours emerged that the Burmese leadership had begun to fear a similar turn of events on the streets of Rangoon and elsewhere, although this never materialised.

Instead they have enacted a slew of reforms intended to appease critics and signal that the political landscape is finally progressing.

Zarganar, a long-time opponent of the government, who was initially handed a 35-year sentence for criticising its woeful response to Cyclone Nargis in 2008 before being freed last week, has wasted no time in rounding on Naypyidaw’s so-called reformists. He claims the prisoner amnesty last week was largely superficial, given that some 1,700 dissidents remain behind bars.

Although Zarganar has set he will return to work soon, and evidently has little fear about criticising the government, his looming tour of the country, during which he will visit political prisoners, means that his career will be put on hold for the time being.

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