Comedian arrested for satirical review of movie in Nepal

The arrest triggered a criticism of the K.P. Sharma Oli-led government

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A popular comedian was arrested in Nepal for posting a "satirical" comment about a film on a social media platform, triggering a criticism of the K.P. Sharma Oli-led government.

Pranesh Gautam, 24, was arrested on Friday last week under the Electronic Transaction Act on a complaint filed by film maker Milan Chamling after the comedian posted a "satirical review" of his movie 'Birbikram-part two' on his YouTube channel 'Meme Nepal', the Kathmandu Post reported.

The arrest ironically was made three days before Prime Minister Oli's address to the Oxford Union in London where he spoke on the importance of democracy, freedom and human rights.

PM Oli's speech highlighted the importance of democracy, while back home his government has been criticised for what is seen as an authoritarian rule, stifling freedom of speech and encroaching on human rights, the report said.

In his speech, Oli said a person who had spent over five decades fighting for democratic rights and served 14-year jail sentence knew "how important access to education and freedom of speech are for people and society to grow, develop and prosper".

Meanwhile, Mohana Ansari, member of the National Human Rights Commission, tweeted that while Oli's speech celebrating freedom of speech was appreciated, "Nepali citizens want to see the same at homeland, too".

The Oli administration has been criticised for attempting to push through a number of controversial bills, including a media council bill and an information technology bill, that many say could be used to stifle criticism and squeeze the media.

"In his speech on Monday, Oli failed to mention that his government is bringing laws to control and suppress the media," said Bishnu Nisthuri, former chairman of the federation of Nepali journalists.

The federation of Nepalese journalists is demanding that the government should withdraw the controversial Media Council Bill.

"The prime minister should respond through action, not words... It seems the only purpose of the media council bill is to control and punish the media that does not obey the government. The bill will curtail the freedom of expression," said Krishna Pahadi, a noted human rights activist.