Art December 06, 2011 00:00


2,644 Viewed

Out of prison and with a new passport, the Burmese comedian plans travels to Thailand and beyond

Outspoken Burmese comedian Zarganar, recently freed from prison, plans to travel to Thailand, Cambodia, the United States and Germany after being issued a passport.

Zarganar, real name Ko Thura, said he received his first passport in late November, barely a month and a half after being released under a presidential amnesty, the Myanmar Times reported on Sunday.

“I’ve tried six times to apply for a passport in the past but each time was rejected. This time it took only three weeks,” he said.

Zarganar plans to visit Thailand and Cambodia later this month to meet directors and discuss the upcoming Art of Freedom Film Festival to be held in Rangoon from December 31 to January 4.

“I will meet two Thai directors in Thailand. They said they will teach the winner of our festival after it’s finished,” he said.

After spending two days in Thailand, Zarganar was to continue to Cambodian capital Phnom Penh to visit documentary film school Meta House.

“I wanted to go and visit this school after I read a story the Phnom Penh Post published about it,” he said.

The comedian, imprisoned under the previous junta for his wisecracks about the military regime, also plans to visit his family in the United States in January after the Rangoon film festival.

He said he will then travel to Germany at the invitation of Michael Mittermeier, the comedian and actor who was behind the documentary “The Prison Where I Live”, which focuses on Zarganar's life and was made last year while he was in prison.

Zarganar was freed under an amnesty last month granted to more than 7,000 inmates by the government, which came to power after last November’s polls, the first in military-ruled Burma in two decades.

The new regime, although top-heavy with ex-military men, has taken steps towards democratic reform, including freeing around 300 political prisoners. An estimated 600 to 1,600 prisoners of conscience remain in jail.