Burmese digter praat oor sy tronkstraf

Saw Wei

Saw Wei

In Januarie 2008 is die Burmese digter, Saw Wei, gearresteer na aanleiding van ‘n valentynsdagvers, “February the Fourteenth” wat in die weekblad The Love Journal verskyn het. In hierdie agtreël-vers het hy glo ‘n verskuilde insinuasie gemaak jeens generaal Than Shwe, hoof van die heersende militêre junta in Burma. Indien jy glo die eerste letter van elke reël langs mekaar sou skryf, lees dit “Generaal Than Shwe is kranksinnig en magsbehep” in Burmees.

Die gevolg hiervan is dat Saw Wei meer as twee jaar tronkstraf moes uitdien en eers enkele weke gelede weer vrygelaat is. Pas het daar dan ook ‘n onderhoud, wat op Irrawaddy se webblad gelees kan word, verskyn. In hoofsaak handel dit oor sy aanhouding en ervarings in die tronk.

Interessant genoeg is hierdie woordspeletjies ‘n ou en gevestigde praktyk onder Burma se rebelle-skrywers. So moes die Engelse tydskrif Myanmar Times in 2007 sy publikasie tydelik opskort nadat hulle onwetend ‘n advertensie geplaas met die opskrif ‘Ewhsnahtrellik’, wat glo gerig was op Skandinawiese toeriste. Van agter gelees spel dit ‘Killer Than Shwe’.

Hieronder volg enkele vrae met Wei se antwoorde daarby; heel onder aan die Nuuswekker volg die gedig waarvoor hy tronkstraf moes uitdien.

Q: Were you able to read and write while you were in prison?

A: Yes, I got a chance to read and write. Normally, political prisoners like us are denied this right. But as soon as I was put in prison, I started demanding to be allowed to read and write. And I told the prison authorities that I wanted to open a library. I was allowed to do that, and I set up a library with about 1,000 books in Insein Prison hospital. When I was transferred to Yamethin Prison, I made the same demand. The prison authorities allowed me to set up a library with about 1,000 books there. We had more readers in Insein Prison than Yamethin Prison. So I had to persuade my fellow prisoners to read. After 18 months, more prisoners were reading books. In Yamethin Prison, there are about 400 political prisoners and about 120 are regular readers. That’s one of the things I did in prison.

Q: What were your feelings when you wrote the poem that was printed in “The Love Journal”?

A: I am flying a flag of truth in my heart when I create art. This truth is disliked by tyranny. This truth is disliked by the rich. This truth is honored by the honest people of the world. 

***

Vanoggend is daar vier nuwer blogs om aan te kondig. Desmond Painter skryf oor Mandelstam en plaas ook ‘n droedeltjies uit sy drome; Andries Bezuidenhout vertel van ‘n poësie-inisiatief tydens die komende Oppikoppi en Jo Prins vertel hoekom Johannesburg vir hom ‘n meer huislike omgewing is as Durbanville.

Mmm, sommer heelwat leesstof om die naweek mee storm te loop.

Geniet dit!

LE

 

Arensberg said:
Only once you have experienced deep pain
And madness
And like an adolescent
Thought the blurred photo of a model
Great art
Can you call it heartbreak.
Millions of people
Who know how to love
Please clap your gilded hands
And laugh out loud.

 

© Saw Wei (Uit: The Love Journal, 2008. Vertaler onbekend.)

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