'I'll Always Have To Be Ready'

Zargana was detained last year after the “Saffron Revolution” that swept through Burma in September, led by monks and sparked by a massive rise in fuel prices.
2008-06-06
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Zargana was unexpectedly freed and returned home in his prison uniform, with a plastic spoon and a bowl as mementos. Excerpts of his interview with RFA’s Burmese service in October 2007 follow:

“I started having pneumonia, and I was in trouble. I didn’t think I was going to be released. I was kept with the military dogs. How rude and wicked. I was there with 30 dogs...I caught a cold because it had a cement floor. It wasn’t suitable for sleeping. From there, they sent me to an inner room in unit five, to a special room. It was a bit better there. It’s nice in that special room. We can take a bath. So I caught a cold and had pneumonia.”

“I stayed [in Aung Thabyay] for about five days and was sent to Insein prison. I was sent to the building with military dogs there. After a week there, they sent me to the special room in unit five. They didn’t interrogate me at all. Of course, they did ask the usual things like, ‘What’s your name? How did you get involved in this matter?’...Those who interrogated were unlike before. They didn’t cover our heads or anything. When we could see each other’s face, they didn’t do those things. We just sat and talked.”

I believe I will have to participate in the areas where I’m needed. I’ll always have to be ready when I’m needed…I would like to say that artists, including me, should not be reluctant to work for the people."

Zargana, October 2007

“[Later] they told me that I was going to be transferred to another prison and put me in a car. On the way, only when we got close to Kyauktawgyi Pagoda, did I find out I was going home. I wasn’t told anything. I was just brought here suddenly. ... I just got here last night and I listened to the radio. This morning I listened to RFA and BBC...”

“The lives of youths here have been destroyed, they are in prison, and some have died. In prison, there were monks with gunshot wounds on their backs. I saw old monks around the age of 72 who got kicked in the ribs, and so they were leaning on one side. I also met monks who have been practicing for 34 years. These are sad things. It’s obvious that the monk was over 70. Even if he were not a monk but an ordinary person, they still shouldn’t have done that. Even if we don’t do anything to them, they will go to Hell for these things that they have done. It is really sad that these things happened in a Buddhist country.”

“…Even if not physically, I think we need to continue mentally. It is impossible to go on like this…I don’t think I’m free at all. They have not returned my hand phone until now. I can’t use my landline from home at all... I’m not so free. I can’t freely use my phone. That’s what I think.”

“I believe I will have to participate in the areas where I’m needed. I’ll always have to be ready when I’m needed…I would like to say that artists, including me, should not be reluctant to work for the people.”

Translated by Than Than Win.

CH. 1: MANDARIN | CANTONESE

CH. 2: VIETNAMESE | BURMESE | KOREAN

CH. 3: KHMER | LAO | UYGHUR

CH. 4: TIBETAN

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