Zarganar claims his prize in Paris (photo from the Reporters Without Borders website)
BURMESE BLOGGER, actor, and comedian Zarganar finally claimed the press freedom prize awarded to him by the international reporters group Reporters Without Borders – four years after the award was announced.
The reason – Burmese authorities, angry over criticism by Zarganar over the regime’s handling of the relief operations after Typhoon Nargis, had kept the popular blogger and comedian in jail for three years.
Zarganar was awarded by Reporters Without Borders the press freedom prize in the cyber-dissident category in December 2008, or six months after he was arrested by Burmese authorities. Zarganar was only freed in October 2011 under an amnesty program for political prisoners, according to a statement from the media group.
Zarganar was arrested after agreeing to be interviewed by several western media organizations on the Burmese government’s mishandling of the relief efforts after Typhoon Nargis laid waste to the region in May 2008. The storm is believed to have killed 138,000 Burmese, although there are reports that the death toll was severely under reported by the Burmese government. For his critical comments, Zarganar was sentenced to 35 years in prison under the Electronics Act, Reporters Without Borders said.
This month, Zarganar was finally allowed to travel to Paris, where he met with organizations that had supported him during his incarceration. Zarganar visited the Reporters Without Borders headquarters in Paris, where he received the award in behalf of himself and fellow blogger Nay Phone Latt, who was also jailed by the Burmese government.
Read the story in the Reporters Without Borders website here.