Burma: U Par Par Lay arrested

***UPDATE: U Par Par Lay was released on 30 October 2007 after 5 weeks in detention, and was reported to be well though exhausted after his ordeal***

English PEN is gravely concerned for the well-being of Burmese comedian U Par Par Lay who was arrested on 25 September 2007 in Mandalay. He is among several leading pro-democracy activists and public figures to be detained in the crackdown, including fellow comedian Zargana.

Amnesty International has the following further information (http://web.amnesty.org/pages/mmr-051007-feature-eng):

‘Par Par Lay, also known as U Pa Pa Lay, was arrested on 25 September 2007 in the city of Mandalay during the crackdown by security forces on anti-government protestors. He was arrested after leading a group of opposition party members in offering donations to Buddhist monks. It is not known where he is now detained.

Par Par Lay is a popular comedian in Myanmar. This is not the first time that he has been imprisoned.

On 4 January 1996, the 48th anniversary of Myanmar‘s independence from the UK, a group of entertainers including Par Par Lay performed for a celebration at the home of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD). In their routine, Par Par Lay had joked that government cooperatives were thieves, and sang a comic song about Myanmar‘s ruling Generals.

Following the performance, he and other entertainers from the group, known as the Moustache Brothers, were arrested. Most were released after a month but Par Par Lay, another comedian and two NLD members were charged with causing or intending “to spread false news, knowing beforehand that it is untrue”. When NLD party members and their lawyers tried to attend the trial, they found the courtroom closed. They later learned that a judge and a prosecuting lawyer had gone to Mandalay prison to conduct the trial there. The defendants were not allowed any legal representation.

On 18 March 1996, Par Par Lay was sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment. For part of his sentence, he was held in a labour camp, where he was forced to work with iron bars across his legs…

Par Par Lay was released on 13 July 2001, though he was kept under close surveillance thereafter by Military Intelligence.”

Appeals to Myanmar (Burma) Embassy:

While the situation in Burma is still critical, letters sent to the country may not be received or taken as a priority. It is therefore recommended that appeals be sent to the diplomatic representative of Myanmar (Burma):

– protesting the detention of comedian and pro-democracy activist U Par Par Lay, and expressing grave concern for his well-being;

– demanding his immediate and unconditional release and that of all those currently detained in Myanmar in violation of Article 19 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Address:

His Excellency HE U Nay Win
Embassy of the Union of Myanmar
19A Charles Street
Berkeley Square
London W1J 5DX 

Originally posted with the url: www.englishpen.org/writersinprison/bulletins/myanmarleadingcomedianarrested/

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