SW Daily

  • Ships in the Mist: Scenes from a Burmese Childhood

    This month we have dedicated our coverage to Burma and it’s repressive and secretive regime. Because publishing is so tightly controlled there and the government regulates communication, it is difficult to have access to stories of daily life in Burma, a perspective offered here by City of Asylum writer-in-residence Khet Mar. Khet Mar fled Burma in 2006 after her relief work with Cyclone Nargis survivors attracted the attention of the junta.


  • Burmese Writer-In-Exile Speaks in Pittsburgh

    Khet Mar does not look like a revolutionary. She is demure, soft-spoken, unassuming. She appears to be as delicate and fragile as a butterfly, but that appearance belies great strength and resolve. She was only 22 years old in 1991 when sentenced to ten years in a Burma prison. Her crime: speaking out publicly for human rights.


  • A Cause Worth Following: Help Pinar Selek

    The Turkish writer and sociologist Pinar Selek, born in 1971, presently a scholar in the Writers-in-Exile program of German P.E.N., is a passionate advocate for the rights of different kinds of minorities, such as socially disadvantaged children, but she also defends the civil rights of ethnic minorities like Kurds and Armenians.


  • Burmese Music: Hip Hop on Trial

    In February, Burmese musician and activist Zayar Thaw turned 29 behind the walls of Kawthaung Prison in southern Burma. He was two years into a six-year sentence for “dealings in foreign currency and membership in an illegal organization.” The illegal organization is Generation Wave, a group focused on promoting democracy and civil rights to Burma’s youth through music, poetry, and graffiti.


  • The Plight of Children in Burma

    Burma’s children are in danger. Across the country, the government has forced its people to move to new areas as they confiscate land, inciting ethnic violence, and squash opposition. These relocations threaten the health, security, education, and environment of Burmese children.


  • Education in Burma

    While researching my article on the Burmese refugee community in Pittsburgh, I heard time and again that the refugees struggle with adapting to the American education system. They are used to a pedagogy based almost entirely on rote memorization. This is to ensure that the students won’t develop the kind of critical thinking skills that would enable to them to criticize the government or organize opposition. The government also strictly controls what information is available to students, leading to a skewed perspective on history and politics.


  • A Flawed Election Day

    In 1990, a parliamentary government was fairly elected by the Burmese people with Aung San Suu Kyi at its head. Burma’s military junta ignored the election and placed Suu Kyi under house arrest. Since then, the military and its generals have ruled Burma with little regard for the freedoms its people deserve.

    This flawed election day will be the first held in Burma in the last 20 years, but under the nation’s constitution and electoral laws there seems to be little hope for change.


  • Immigration and Oppression: Readings with Amnesty International and American Shorts

    City of Asylum/Pittsburgh writer-in-residence Khet Mar will be reading on Tuesday at the Shadow Lounge at an event sponsored by COA/P, Pittsburgh Human Rights Network, and Amnesty International.

    She will speak on the deplorable state of human rights in Burma and the repression of journalists. After the reading Khet Mar will take questions from the audience and there will be a film screening and an opportunity to participate in an Amnesty International letter writing campaign.


  • Map of a Shooting Gallery: Protestors of March 1988

    In explaining the horrors he experienced in Burma, words are not always enough for Than What. He witness the violence of the 8888 Uprising during which Burmese officials gunned down students who had gathered to protest the economic policies of the government. After witnessing the death of friends and classmates, Than What made fifty photocopies of a publication telling the history of the student protest movement and help distribute the unofficial newspaper. In 2002, he was forced to flee Burma because of his political involvement and currently lives in Pittsburgh.