Comics jailed for daring to parody governing junta

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In Burma where dissent is banned, comedians famously use humour to deliver their political messages in satire, song and dance despite the threat of jail.

When the junta reacted to ther ecent demonstrations, one of the three Mandalay-based comedy troupe The Moustache Brothers was among those arrested. Par Par Lay, also known as U Pa Pa Lay, was detained when he visited a monastery to give alms to monks on 25 September. The family of the 60-year-old say there has been no word about him since.

His wife Win Mar said: "I'm very worried. I want to give some medicine and clothes to him."

Another leading comic Zarganar, a former dentist known as Burma's Charlie Chaplin, was seized after supporting the protests. His mother Kyi Os said: "I warned him not to get too involved in the protests but he refused me. He loves his country and his people."

Both comedians have been imprisoned before.

Zarganar was jailed twice – in 1988 after the student uprising for a year and in 1990 for four years. Par Par Lay and one of his two colleagues U Lu Zaw was jailed for six years after performing at an Independence Day party at the home of jailed democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi in 1994. They were blacklisted and forbidden to perform in public after their release in July 2001. However, The Moustache Brothers have continued to perform for foreigners at their homes and get a mention in the "Lonely Planet Guide to Burma" which reports that even military intelligence agents spying on them put money in their hats.

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