Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Risking All: The Burmese Jokers Who Laugh in the Face of Danger

Even by the standards of dictatorships, the Burmese junta of General Than Shwe has astonishingly little sense of humour. And, in a regime such as this, life was never going to be easy for the Moustache Brothers.

For 30 years the three comedians have charmed their audiences and irritated the authorities with their mixture of traditional Burmese clowning and topical satire. Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese democracy leader, is one of their fans. Like her, two of the Moustache Brothers have already served long prison sentences.

So it was little surprise when, late at night two weeks ago, five members of the Burmese special branch knocked at the door and led away Par Par Lay, the star of the group. He was given no time to pack spare clothes. Since then his family, whose cramped front room serves as the troupe’s miniature theatre, have heard nothing about his health or whereabouts.

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Burma, Not Myanmar
Just to put it out there on the subject of Burma....

Calling Burma Myanmar is insulting to the Burmese people. Burma was a democracy from independence in 1948 until the military coup of 1962. It is the illegitimate junta that has changed its name. In 1990 the junta held elections to legitimise its rule. This backfired as the National League for Democracy won by a landslide. The stunned generals refused to recognise the results.

So to use Burma instead of Myanmar is to respect the democratic expression of Burma’s people.

I realize that there are problems in the US, too, but the Burmese people continue to haunt me. And if that's inside of me-- on my mind and in my heart-- I'm compelled to express it to whomever will listen.



Julie Thu Oct 11, 08:50:00 PM EDT  

I'm listening.

stanaxe Fri Oct 12, 06:04:00 AM EDT  

Changing the name to myanmar will not quench the Burmese spirit, nor will it hide what is being done, as long as the world calls Burma,Burma the junta will hear the contempt!


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