Comedian Zarganar says political prisoners are like ‘hostages’ Skip to main content

Comedian Zarganar says political prisoners are like ‘hostages’

(Interview) – Mizzima correspondent Kyaw Kha talked by telephone with Burmese comedian Zarganar, who was released from Myitkyina Prison and arrived back at his home in Rangoon on Wednesday.
Burmese comedian Zarganar, aka Thura, who was released from prison under a presidential amnesty is welcomed by crowds at Mingaladon Airport in Rangoon on Wednesday, October 12, 2011.
Burmese comedian Zarganar, aka Thura, who was released from prison under a presidential amnesty is welcomed by crowds at Mingaladon Airport in Rangoon on Wednesday, October 12, 2011. Photo: Mizzima
Question: When did you learn that you would be released from prison?

Answer: While we were sleeping. They woke us up at around 5:30 a.m. and told me that I was released. Then I left the prison.

Q: What are your plans now? Will you continue to take part in politics, social activities and artistic activities?

A: Regarding the three fields, I’ll continue those activities. Those are all activities I’m interested in, so I’ll continue.

Q: Why do you think the new government released ordinary prisoners and some political prisoners?

A: Only [President] Thein Sein knows why we were released. I was released, but I don’t know why.

Q: When you were in prison, did you know much about the new government’s actions?

A: In the prison, we can read newspapers and journals. I knew about some things from the newspapers and journals.

Q: What do you think about the new government?

A: Earlier, it satisfied me a little. But according to today’s conditions regarding the amnesty, I am not satisfied. As you see, they are releasing political prisoners little by little; so we are like the victims in the hands of Somali pirates. What is their ransom demands? The situation is like that.

Q: What other political prisoners were in Myitkyina Prison?

A: With me were Myo Aung Thant, who was also released. He was imprisoned 14 years ago. Zin Min Tun was also released. He was arrested in the “Saffron Revolution” and imprisoned four years ago. And many political prisoners are still in [Myitkyina] prison. There are four monks: Thiha Thet Zin from Bogale; Zayyar Aung from Pegu; Myo Min Than from Bagan; and Kyi Soe from Taungtha.

Q: What would you like to say about the political prisoners still in the prison?

A: If all [political prisoners] are released that will be the best moment. Then it will be an opportunity to do activities and express our feelings. I’ll wait for that that time. We will work in order that all are released.

Q: How were prison conditions like including health services and food?  Does it improve?

A: Yes, it is very different [from earlier]. The conditions have improved from before. The health service is also OK. Doctors can be available. I have nothing to criticize about it. It’s good. I was imprisoned four times and this last time I felt as though I were in a religious hall.

Q: What is your opinion on the Thee Lay Thee traditional dance troupe?  You were once a member, and some members have returned to Burma.

A: Now, besides me, there are two Thees: Sein Thee and Zee Thee. The Thees who are in a foreign country are Pan Thee, Kyel Thee and Mee Thee. People will see we all are united again and we will entertain. With my return, everything will be OK. I’ll lead all of them.

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