Off to Prison with Them

Thursday, 15 August 2013

With all that comedy currently taking place at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival the UK papers have been running stories on places where comedy is not so funny. Like North Korea, although I recently noted that Kim Jong Il (Fatty 2 according to Chinese bloggers) had quite a deft touch at comedy and Kim Jong Un (Fatty 3) seems to be following in his father’s footsteps.

But when genuine North Korean comedienne Lee Choon Hong said the wrong thing at a recent performance she was arrested mid act and, according to the reports, sent straight to the ‘Jikdong Youth Coal Mine.’

Meanwhile in Saudi Arabia blogger Raif Badawi is in prison – where he’s already been for a long time just awaiting trial – for the crime, amongst other things, of mentioning Valentine’s Day! Presumably Saudis are not supposed to know about it. Amnesty International consider him to be a ‘prisoner of conscience.’ The Saudi authorities consider his blogging to be worth a seven year prison sentence and 600 lashes.

At least there are some people who have a sense of humour in the Middle East, the Guardian has a story on the rise of the Pan-Arabia Enquirer, the Middle East’s own version of The Onion or Private Eye. There’s clearly lots of potential there, as they prove with stories like ‘Saudi clerics ‘running out of day-to-day things to ban’ where it reports on the cleric who outlawed the raising of toilet seats as ‘despicable.’

Last week Barack Obama showed he’s also got a sense of humour, even if it’s a rather macabre one, when he suggested that if Edward Snowden wanted justice he could come back from Russia and make his case in an American court. Uh, excuse me? Is that a court in the country that administers lynch-mob-style justice via drones, no accusation, no arrest, no trial necessary, just instant execution? Or grabs people and whisks them off to Guantánamo without any case presented? That sort of justice? If I was Mr Snowden I certainly wouldn’t want to make my case in a US court in the current climate

Mandalay, Burma - Moustache Brothers 524
▲ Yesterday I discovered that U Par Par Lay, one of the three Moustache Brothers from Mandalay in Myanmar, who had gone to jail for joking about the military dictatorship, had died.