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    Writing from prison in Myanmar

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    Writing from prison in Myanmar: Two previously imprisoned writers share their hopes for Myanmar’s future

    Sean Turnell spent almost two years in Myanmar’s terrifying Insein prison, accused of being a spy. Ma Thida was also incarcerated there, denied medical treatment she came very close to dying. How did they survive? Ma Thida practised Buddhist Vipassana meditation and Sean’s sense of humour got him through. Important players in Myanmar’s government and politics, three years after the military seized power in a coup what hope do they hold for the return of democracy? 

    Sean Turnell is Honorary Professor of Economics at Macquarie University. In 2009 he published an influential book on Myanmar’s financial system, Fiery Dragons, which made him an internationally recognised expert on the subject and one of Aung San Suu Kyi’s most trusted advisers. He was arrested in Myanmar in 2021 following the military coup and imprisoned for 650 days. Sean lives in Sydney with his wife, Ha Vu, who campaigned tirelessly for his release. 

    Ma Thida is a Burmese human rights activist, surgeon and writer. She spent six years in Burma’s Insein prison in the late 1990s 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 currently living in exile in Germany. She is the Chair of PEN International’s Writers in Prison committee and has received many international awards, including the PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award.

    Moderator: Amy Remeikis, the Guardian

    Amy Remeikis is a political reporter with Guardian Australia and helms the Politics Live blog during parliament sittings.

    A limited number of books by Sean Turnell will be available for sale during the reception at 5.30-6pm.

    This event is presented by the ANU Myanmar Research Centre, and supported by PEN Sydney and The Canberra Writers Festival

    Images by Georgie Demertzis and Ole Witt. 


    Light refreshments in the Foyer at 5.30pm
    Lecture in Molonglo Theatre at 6pm

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