8/16/2013: “Permission to Speak”

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Former Political Prisoner Win Maw plays a guitar he made in prison

As Burma transitions from dictatorship to democracy, hundreds of political prisoners have been freed after decades behind bars. Many former political prisoners suffer from PTSD from decades of torture, others have family and friends who refuse to speak with them, still fearing they will be arrested. In “Permission to Speak ” we travel through Burma and  meet former political prisoners who are trying to rebuild their lives, and build a democracy from the ground up. The characters are both national heroes and broken people. We meet a former army captain who resigned from the military and was then arrested for pro-democracy activities,  a hip-hop artist, turned political prisoner who now represents the National League for Democracy in Burma’s new parliament and a Burmese rock star who was imprisoned for rewriting the words to Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall.” Some freed political prisoners are being denied access to university, passports and professional licenses.  Still, many of them continue to test the limits of the emerging democracy, and face profound consequences.  In the end we learn that many of these former political prisoners are still at risk of being re-imprisoned for peaceful activities, and we meet a new generation of pro-democracy activists, the children of former political prisoners, who themselves are on trial and facing ten years in prison.

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

This special broadcast aired on KCPW-FM 88.3 and 105.3 August 16, 2013 at 9am and 8pm.  For more information you can visit www.prx.org