08/01/2008, 00.00
MYANMAR
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Actor who helped cyclone Nargis victims could get two years in prison

Zarganar was charged with public order offences which are punishable with up to two years in prison. His trial should begin on 7 August; he should appear along with three human rights activists.
Yangon (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Myanmar's military junta has charged popular comedian and leading dissident Zarganar with public order offences, which could see him jailed for up to two years, opposition lawyer Aung Thein said

Zarganar was charged with “inducing public offence” at a secret hearing inside Yangon's notorious Insein prison on Wednesday. Three other anti-government activists also appeared at the hearing.

“It was the first time they appeared at the court and it's said that their trial will start on August 7,” he said.

Zarganar was arrested on 3 June for providing informal relief to cyclone Nargis victims and publicly criticising the ruling generals for their sluggish response to natural disaster.

In the weeks following the event he organised a team of 400 volunteers who brought relief aid to 42 villages, challenging the military regime’s bans and restrictions and at the same time reporting the real situation in the cyclone-ravaged areas.

During his arrest the secret police seized Zarganar's compute, CDs (showing cyclone-hit areas in Irrawaddy and Yangon) and about a thousand dollars for cyclone victims.

In the last few days Burma’s military junta, which has ruled the country for the past 46 years, has tightened its grip, increasing controls and censorship ahead of the 20th anniversary of a pro-democracy uprising that was drown in blood on 8 August 1988, a historic albeit tragic date for the country. The demonstrations were crushed with the loss of an estimated 3,000 lives.

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