Former Victoria resident detained in Myanmar

A former Victoria resident is in jail in Myanmar, formerly Burma, on a charge of entering the country illegally.

Ron Zakreski, 60, was charged Friday after being taken into custody on March 24 after his arrest near Wawlay, just inside Myanmar’s border with Thailand. According to an Internet report, Zakreski was taking pictures of an area where Burmese soldiers had clashed with anti-government forces.

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Canada’s foreign affairs department said in a written statement Saturday that consular officials in Bangkok, Thailand, are aware a Canadian has been arrested in Myanmar and are monitoring.

Zakreski, a Canadian, left Victoria several years ago but has relatives on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands.

His brother, Ken, said in a telephone interview from his home on Gabriola Island that Ron is “a veteran traveller,” a photographer and sometimes journalist and would have gone to the area looking for interesting pictures.

“Ron would go into an area that he perceived as safe to photograph it,” Ken said. “It’s what he would do. I’m just pissed off he got caught, he should know better.”

Ken said his brother is a psychologist who graduated from the University of Saskatchewan. Ron caught the travel bug after taking a bicycle trip through Norway just after university.

Ron lived in the Victoria area for about 10 years. He has never married and does not have children. In 1992, he sold a house in Langford and went travelling.

But Ron has regularly returned to B.C., Ken said. He was back for the Vancouver Olympics and last year helped Ken to organize a community radio station. Then he flew to Eastern Europe. “He’s kind of hard to keep track of,” said Ken.

“If he’s broke, he goes to India. If he has money, he goes to Eastern Europe. If he is flush, he goes to Western Europe. If he wants to relax, he goes to Thailand,” he said.

Myanmar has been ruled by a military junta since 1962. A strictly controlled election took place in November and concerns remain that the army will not give up control.

rwatts@timescolonist.com

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