Reporters Without Borders and the Burma Media Association condemn the charge of disturbing public order that have been brought against Zarganar, a well-known comedian and blogger, and Zaw Thet Htwe, a sports journalists. Arrested in early June for criticising the government’s relief efforts after Cyclone Nargis and, in Zarganar’s case, for talking to the BBC, they are facing up to two years in prison under article 505 (b) of the criminal code.
“The fact that the first hearing was held behind closed doors bodes ill for the way Zarganar and Zaw Thet Htwe will be tried for helping the victims of the cyclone,” the two organisations said. “We call on the United Nations and its new special rapporteur for Burma, who will soon visit the country, to intercede on their behalf.”
The trial of Zarganar and three other activists accused of participating in unofficial cyclone relief operations in the delta area began on 30 June before a special court inside Insein prison. A defense lawyer, Aung Thein, was quoted by Reuters as saying the trial was due to continue on 7 August.