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Date: August 8, 2008

Dear General Than Shwe


Naypyidaw, Myanmar

C/O Myanmar Ambassador


723-1, 724-1, Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu,
Seoul-si, Korea 140-210

Subject: Release Artist Leading Cyclone Relief

I am writing to express my deep concern about information I have received that


Zarganar, an artist who was involved in the effort to bring relief to the victims of Cyclone
Nargis, was arrested at his home on June 4, 2008. Reports detail that the State Peace and
Development Council (SPDC) searched his home, and confiscated his computer as well as
money that was destined for victims of the cyclone. I understand that he has been kept in
detention in a secret location since his arrest even though no charges have been publicly
brought against him. I urge you to release Zarganar immediately, and to cease other efforts to
intimidate human rights defenders.
Zarganar is a peaceful human rights activist, a poet, and a comedian with a long
history of social work, whose activities are protected by international human rights laws and
standards. After Cyclone Nargis hit the Irrawaddy delta and the Yangon Division, Zarganar
collected money and organized several hundred volunteers to bring food and other much
needed supplies to more than 42 villages in the most difficult areas to access. This type of
private relief efforts has been explicitly authorized by the Natural Disaster Prevention and
Protection Committee (NDPPC) and cannot constitute a legal basis for arrest. News that
another public figure, Zaw Thet Htwe, a prominent sportswriter also involved in the relief
effort, was arrested last Friday is deeply disturbing as it indicates that government authorities
are trying to prevent relief from reaching populations in need.
Zarganar has been arbitrarily arrested and detained by government authorities several
times in the past. His latest arrest and detention without apparent charges constitute yet
another violation of his fundamental human rights. Zarganar is but one of the human rights
and political activists currently held in your government's prisons.
I ask your government to inform Zarganar's family of his whereabouts and to either
bring credible charges against him or immediately release him in conformity with both
international and domestic law. While Zarganar and others remain in detention, I ask your
government to guarantee that the conditions of their detention conform to basic international
standards as defined under the U.N. Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners
and the U.N. Body of Principles for the Protection of all Persons Under Any Form of
Detention or Imprisonment. These documents enshrine the basic standards needed to protect
the rights of detainees, including the rights of prisoners to regular correspondence and family
visits.
I further urge your government to stop hindering the work of private citizens who try
to bring relief to the victims of the cyclone.
Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter. I will continue to monitor these
cases closely.

Sincerely,

Ni Chum Er
676-4, Ssangsong-ri, Mado-myeon,
Hwaseong-si, Gyeonggi-do, Korea
Mobile: +82 10 7217 8876
Email: chumto@gmail.com