Puppetry is of course a great medium for political satire, but it’s easy to forget that there are still many places where millions billions don’t enjoy the same freedom of expression that we often take for granted in Western democracies. A reminder of this comes from UNIMA, who report that two Burmese puppeteers named U Pa Pa Lay and U Lu Zaw who are known as “The Moustache Brothers” have been arrested in Burma as part of the brutal crackdown initiated by Burma’s military leadership following pro-democracy demonstrations in that country last month. This isn’t the first time that the Moustache Brothers have been arrested by Burmese authorities. They were arrested and sentenced to a seven year prison term back in 1996 following a puppetry performance that portrayed government cooperatives as thieves and included comedic songs about Myanmar’s generals.
UNIMA is asking the puppetry community to help by denouncing this situation to the media in their respective countries and writing to their Ministry of Foreign Affairs (or equivalent) to help raise political awareness of the plight of courageous artists like U Pa Pa Lay and U Lu Zaw who literally risk their lives to practice puppetry and speak out against injustice.