Yangon – Once known as a rebel rapper with a penchant for electric guitars and dragon tattoos, Zayar Thaw now aims to be an agent of change as a parliamentarian in the stronghold of the Myanmar army that threw him in jail. (more…)

DUBLIN — Aung San Suu Kyi landed in Ireland on Monday for a flying visit on her European tour, with U2 star Bono by her side as she headed to collect a prize honouring her unwavering commitment to human rights. (more…)

“Ludu” Sein Win, an outspoken Burmese journalist, passed away at Shwegondaing Hospital in Rangoon on Sunday after a long fight with lung disease. He was 71. (more…)

As Aung San Suu Kyi is allowed to go to the UK ethnic violence threatens to undermine my country’s transition to democracy. (more…)

This week members of the Free Zargana Campaign meet the Burmese comedian and performance poet at the Free Word Centre in London.  The consortium of human rights and freedom of expression advocates, including PEN, Index on Censorship and Article 19, had campaigned for the Zargana’s release since 2008 when he was imprisoned on a series of trumped-up charges following his outspoken criticism of the government’s response to Cyclone Nargis. (more…)

Tens of thousands of migrant workers from Myanmar work in Thailand’s building, fishing and rubber industries, with very few rights. Zarganar, a famous comedian fresh out of jail, puts the spotlight on their plight. (more…)

Seven Burmese performance artists will faces charges in a Mandalay court on Thursday after they allegedly broke an obscure law last week by performing in public with five foreigners who were subsequently deported. (more…)

Yangon, Myanmar – When Burmese filmmaker Htun Zaw Win decided to make a short comedy about the tragically bizarre process of getting movies made in his oppressed homeland, he knew exactly what to base it on: real life. (more…)

Zeyar Thaw, one of Myanmar’s leading hip-hop stars, never dreamed of entering parliament, let alone representing a district in the military-dominated capital of Naypyidaw. (more…)

YANGON — With a flamboyant wardrobe and a diva’s voice, she’s seen as Myanmar’s Lady Gaga — a rare pop star in a country where years of isolation have left musicians reliant on borrowed foreign tunes. (more…)

In 2010, when foreign journalists were still largely exiled from Myanmar, two Australian filmmakers set out to document the country’s first general elections in two decades through the experiences of reporters working at the Myanmar Times, the country’s only local newspaper with foreign investment. (more…)

Rangoon—Unlike any other exhibition, the Amnesty Prison Art Show 2012 has something different for the viewing public—a remarkable collection of clandestine works made during incarceration by ex-political prisoners. (more…)

Burmese comedian Zarganar appeared onstage in New York at the first U.S. Secret Policeman’s Ball, as American and British comics took turns using foul words to insult and challenge despots, tyrants and dictators around the world on Sunday.

Burmese comedian and political activist Zarganar answers questions at a press conference in October 2011. Photo: Mizzima
The benefit concert, started 36 years ago in Britain, was conceived by Amnesty International and Monty Python’s John Cleese. A panorama of British and U.S. comedians joked, laughed and shocked to raise funds for the human rights organization.

Burmese comedian Zarganar took the stage on a serious note, he said, not to tell jokes, but to thank Amnesty International for its work around the world.

Zarganar had been serving a 35-year sentence in a Burmese prison for “causing public alarm” after speaking to foreign media and criticizing the Burmese military government. After three years in prison, he was released in October 2011 in an amnesty that freed about 200 political detainees. The newly elected, nominally civilian government has replaced a long-ruling military dictatorship in Burma, but Zarganar said that 25 percent of the country’s parliament is automatically filled by military officers appointed by the government, giving the military the upper hand.

Zarganar suggested another 25 percent of parliament seats be filled by comics: “That way, half the parliament would be crazy.”

The Burmese comedian and director, Zarganar, was imprisoned for speaking out out about human rights abuses in Burma. In 2008, he led a movement that collected money and supplies for the victims of Cyclone Nargis, while also publicly criticizing the government’s response to the disaster.

“Amnesty International’s Secret Policeman’s Ball is an opportunity to demonstrate to a new audience that the freedoms we enjoy every day – to post, tweet, blog and email – are under threat in every region of the world,” said Suzanne Nossel, Amnesty International USA executive director. “New technologies have triggered new forms of repression of basic rights such as freedom of expression and assembly. It may sound far-fetched, but comedy is truly life-threatening in many places in the world, as it was for Zarganar in Burma. The best way to stand with those who are denied freedom of speech is to use our freedom to demand theirs.”

Comedians and musicians performing on Sunday were standing up for free speech.

Comedian Russell Brand said: “It’s good there is freedom of speech. This means I can say that I find Prince Charles sexually attractive and that the U.S. presidential elections are a meaningless spectacle to distract us from the mercantile skullduggery of the cabals that control our planet and no one can do anything about it. Thanks Amnesty.”

Mandalay – After years of lampooning the junta, Myanmar’s Moustache Brothers aren’t ready to stop poking fun at the regime yet, despite dramatic changes that mean laughter is no longer such a risky business. (more…)

A staff member from the state-run Myanmar Gems Enterprise displays a 36-carat ruby worth half a million euros. (more…)

Rangoon – Despite signs of greater openness, Burma’s government continues to wield an iron fist. Among its targets is the punk scene, whose bands are forced to play and practice in secret to avoid harsh punishments. Here, punk isn’t a lifestyle. It is an act of genuine rebellion. (more…)

Director Jeanne Hallacy said former political prisoner and activist Ko Bo Kyi inspired her to make “Into the Current.” (more…)

IN ONE of Yangon’s narrow, rundown streets a pharmacist glares suspiciously as I squeeze past his cupboard-sized shop to climb a dim and dusty staircase. It took dozens of phone calls and the help of friends to reach these steps. At the top of them I hope to find Maung Thura, better known as Zarganar, Myanmar’s most famous comedian. (more…)

GURGAON: “I believe colour can tell everything about a human being’s feelings and thoughts,” says the renowned Burmese artist, Zaw Win Pe. And the colours in his naturalistic landscapes, 21 of which are being exhibited for the first time in the country, are as far from nature’s idyll as can be. His abstract canvases depict the skies an oppressive shade of purple, the fields a burning array of oranges and browns, and the trees a charcoal black. (more…)

A film released this week purports to show strong evidence that rape of ethnic women by Burmese troops is endemic, and could be a deliberate policy of the country’s military in its ongoing conflicts in the country’s border regions. (more…)

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