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Campaigning Burmese comic dies at 67

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U Pa Pa Lay had prostate cancer

 U Pa Pa Lay – the Burmese comedian twice jailed for criticising his country’s ruling junta – has died at the age of 67.

The comic, part of the satirical Moustache Brothers trio, became a cause celebre for campaigners at Amnesty International after he was persecuted for his jokes.

U Pa Pa Lay – who had a 30-year career as a comedian – was first jailed in 1990 for six months for criticising the regime’s refusal to recognise the landslide victory of Aung San Suu Kyi’s party in landmark democratic elections.

The Moustache Brothers were also arrested in 1996, after making jokes about government cooperatives being thieves and singing about Myanmar's generals, and sentenced to seven years in prison. For part of his sentence, U Pa Pa Lay was held in a labour camp, where he was forced to work with iron bars across his legs.

He was released in 2001 following Amnesty’s We Know Where You Live campaign, but was banned from taking part in the traditional Burmese vaudevillian performances called A-nyeint pwe. Instead he performed only for foreign visitors, limiting the income he could make.

His brother Lu Maw confirmed U Pa Pa Lay’s death after a battle with prostate cancer.

He told South-East Asia’s Irawaddy newspaper: ‘What is sad is that my big brother did not live to see the 2015 election, because he always told his audiences that “it’s the most important moment for our country”.’

The elections are seen as a significant milestone in the country’s move to full democracy.
Source link: http://www.chortle.co.uk/news/2013/08/02/18418/campaigning_burmese_comic_dies_at_67

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