Fighting with writing, political activism and social work

bySilvia Duarte
Sep 14, 2010 in Journalism Basics

Since she was 19 years old, Khet Mar has been persecuted by the Burmese government. She has been arrested, tortured, incarcerated and threatened, but she has remained a warrior without guns. She fights with her writing, her political activism, and her social work.

In 2009, she was interrogated by intelligence officers for 20 straight hours and released. Afraid she would be arrested again, she left her country to become the writer-in-residence at City of Asylum/Pittsburgh. Sitting in her living room on Sampsonia Way and sipping a green tea, she described how the Burmese government has impacted her life, oppressed the Burmese people and created a reign of terror.

Even while relating these disturbing stories, Khet Mar never raised her voice or lost her calm—except when she mentioned the military government in Burma. “The generals don’t deserve mercy,” she said.

In this interview, Khet Mar details the crucial moments in her life and offers a rare glimpse into life under the secretive regime of the Burmese military junta, including how the publishing industry operates under the thumb of government censors.

This is the first time Khet Mar has been able to tell, for print, her life story, openly and without fear of repercussion.

Read the full interview from Sampsonia Way, an online magazine celebrating literary free expression and supporting persecuted poets and novelists worldwide.