Zarganar to embark on prison tour

Renowned Burmese comedian Zarganar who was released from jail last week says he will soon set off on a trip around the country to visit the nearly 1,700 political prisoners not included in the controversial amnesty.

Speaking to DVB late last week, the popular performer said that he had numbers of items donated by sympathisers to take to the various prisons he will visit.

Zarganar was released early from a 35-year sentence on 12 October, but was quick to criticise what he billed as window-dressing by the Thein Sein administration, whom observers had hoped would include a significant number of political prisoners in the amnesty, rather than the estimated 220 released.

“I will bring these donated items along and visit prisoners in places like Lashio and Taunggyi – although I cannot meet with [the political inmates] in the prison, I could send in parcels as moral support,” he said.

“We want them to know that we always have their back. I also worry that they will feel down [having been left out of the amnesty].”

Zarganar’s criticism of the release was echoed by a number of rights groups. Amnesty International labelled it as “disappointing”, while Human Rights Watch warned that the country remained a far from secure environment for regime critics.

Joining Zarganar, who will set off tomorrow, will be a number of other well-known faces from the entertainment world, including actor Min Maw Kun and musician Sai Sai Kham Hlaing.

Although Zarganar has set he will return to work soon, and evidently has little fear about criticising the government, the looming prison visits means that his career will be put on hold for the time being.

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