Permission to Speak: Political Prisoners in Burma

Saturday, 11 May 2013 11:38 By George Lavender, National Radio Project | Radio Report
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As Burma transitions from dictatorship to democracy, hundreds of political prisoners have been freed after decades behind bars. On this edition, we hear from some of these freed political prisoners as they struggle to rebuild their lives, and test the emerging democracy. They suffer from severe PTSD, their friends and family are scared to speak with them, fearing they too will be arrested, and many are shunned by a public that still lives in fear the long arm of the military dictatorship. Some freed political prisoners are denied access to university, denied passports and denied professional licenses. Still, many of the freed political prisoners continue to test the limits of the emerging democracy, and face profound consequences.

This production is part of the Global Story Project, with support from the Open Society Foundations. Presented by PRX, the Public Radio Exchange.


T. Kumar, Amnesty International USA International Advocacy director; Kyaw Kyaw Soe (AKA Talky), Ko Bo Kyi, Saw Htet Oo, Ma Hta Hta Thet and Ko Win Maw former political prisoners; Pui Pui and Bo Bo, political activists.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.

George Lavender

George Lavender is a producer for the National Radio Project. He joined the National Radio Project in 2012.  He has worked as a radio reporter for several outlets, including Pacifica and Radio France International.  In addition to Making Contact, George reports and edits for Free Speech Radio News.  He is also a member of FSRN’s steering committee.  His written work has appeared in The Guardian as well as local newspapers in the UK.  He has been involved in several media production groups in London and Vancouver.  He is keen to provide radio production trainings to community groups and grassroots organizations.  Follow him on Twitter @georgelavender, or email him at

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