*** UPDATE: According to recent reports, imprisoned leading comedian and poet Zargana collapsed at about 8 pm on 16 April and did not regain consciousness until around 11 pm. It was not until eleven days later, on 27 April, that Zargana was allowed a check up, during which learned that he is suffering from heart disease, hypertension and spondylitis. For more information, please click here. ***
English PEN is alarmed by reports that imprisoned leading comedian and poet Zargana is in poor health and has not been given full access to medical care and family visits.
According to our information, Zargana recently collapsed at the Myitkyina prison, Kachin state, northern Myanmar, where he is being held. He is said to be suffering from heart problems, jaundice and a stomach ulcer. Zargana was taken to Myitkyina Hospital where he underwent some tests, although the specialist medical care he requires is reportedly not available at this hospital. Furthermore, Zargana has been denied full access to family visits, and there are serious concerns for his well-being.
Zargana is serving thirty-five years in prison for his peaceful opposition activities and criticism of the government. He was arrested on the evening of 4 June 2008 after leading a private relief effort to deliver aid to victims of Cyclone Nargis which struck on 2 May 2008. He is believed to have been sentenced for his outspoken criticism of the government’s slow response to the cyclone, and his opposition activities. Many other opposition activists have been condemned by the Burmese government to harsh sentences in recent months, including journalist Zaw Thet Htwe, poet Saw Wei and musician Win Maw.
English PEN seeks assurances of Zargana’s well-being, and urges that he is given full access to the specialist medical care he requires and is allowed family visits. We also continue to call for Zargana’s immediate and unconditional release in accordance with Article 19 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, protecting the right to freedom of expression.
Irrawaddy on Zargana’s health:
For the statement by the Board of International PEN on the sentencing of Zargana, issued in November 2008, see: http://www.internationalpen.org.uk/go/news/board-protests
For the BBC’s country profile on Myanmar (Burma), go to:
Send your appeals:
• Expressing serious concerns for Zargana’s well-being, and urging that he is given full access to specialist medical care and is allowed family visits as a matter of urgency.
• 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.
Senior General Than Shwe
Chairman, State Peace and Development Council
c/o Ministry of Defence, Naypyitaw, Union of Myanmar
Salutation: Dear General
We strongly recommend that you copy your appeal to the Burmese embassy in the UK asking them to forward it to the Burmese authorities and welcoming any comments:
His Excellency Dr Kyaw Win
Embassy of the Union of Myanmar
19A Charles Street
Letters to the press:
PEN members 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.
Originally posted with the url: www.englishpen.org/writersinprison/bulletins/myanmarburmaseriousconcernsforzarganashealth/