Ma Thida and Sean Turnell at Sydney Writers Festival

Sean Turnell and Ma Thida each spent years in Myanmar’s terrifying Insein prison. How did they survive? What hope do these important players in Myanmar’s government and politics hold for the return of democracy three years after the military seized power in a coup? 

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PEN Sydney has been protecting freedom of expression for more than 90 years. We also defend writers here and around the globe who are at risk of being silenced.

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“The role that writers can play in times of uncertainty, diligently curating narratives to nourish empathy, encompassing glimpses of joy and ultimately offering the gift of hope, lacks formal recognition, and this lack of acknowledgement or coherent protections can ultimately decimate expression and propel rampant self-censorship.”

Ma Thida

A Burmese human rights activist, surgeon and writer. She spent six years in Burma’s Insein prison for her pro-democracy activism. She has published 26 books, including her prison memoir Prisoner of Conscience; My Steps through Insein and A-maze both available in English. She is the Chair of PEN International’s Writers in Prison committee

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