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

Permission to Speak

From: Anna Sussman
Length: 59:00

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As Burma transitions from dictatorship to democracy, hundreds of political prisoners have been freed after decades behind bars. In this story, eight of these freed political prisoners 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.

Win_maw_pic_small 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.

Piece Description

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.

Timing and Cues

00:00-00:59 billboard
01:00-06:00 news hole
17:30-18:30 one minute break
40:00-41:00 one minute break
ends 59:00

Intro and Outro

INTRO:

OUTRO:

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

Additional Credits

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