Myanmar: Zargana wins Imprisoned Artist award

English PEN was delighted to learn that Burmese poet and comedian Zargana was awarded the Artventure Freedom to Create Imprisoned Artist Prize at last night’s inaugural awards ceremony. As such, US$ 25,000 will now be put towards supporting his family, paying legal costs and supporting advocacy efforts. Last Friday, 21 November 2008, Zargana, an Honorary Member of English PEN, who has been detained since June, was handed down a staggeringly harsh sentence of forty five years for his involvement in the private relief effort following Cylone Nargis. For more information on his case, please click here.


The main Artventure Freedom to Create Prize was awarded to Cont Mlanga of Zimbabwe, “a long standing playwright and critic of the Mugabe regime, for his play The Good President.” The two runners up for the main prize were the Belarus Free Theatre group and the Pakistani-Norwegain singer Deeyah.


Another Honorary Member of English PEN, Nurmuhemmet Yasin was one of the five shortlisted entrants for the Freedom to Create Imprisoned Artist Prize.


The Artventure Freedom to Create Prize was launched this year by ArtVenture, in association with Article 19. This international prize recognises artists who use their talents in promoting empathy and understanding and confronting discrimination and oppression.


For more information on the awards, please visit

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