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Dr.Ma Thida, Burmese writer and the

Subject: Dr.Ma Thida, Burmese writer and the prisoner of conscience was hornoured in Canada at the writers' , , festival

PEN Canada Tribute

Over the past 21 years, the Harbourfront Reading Series has worked to 
protect freedom of expression and freedom to publish, joining with 
PEN Canada at each Festival to raise awareness about authors silenced for 
their creative efforts. This year, the Festival recognizes Dr. Ma Thida 
from Myanmar, formerly Burma. 

In August 1993, shortly before her 27th birthday, writer and medical 
doctor Ma Thida was arrested in Myanmar by the governing military 
authorities. On October 15, 1993, Ma Thida was given a 20-year 
sentence, which she is currently serving in Insein Prison, known for its 
atrocious conditions, in solitary confinement. Ma Thida had worked in the late 
1980s as campaign and medical assistant to honorary member of PEN  Canada 
Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, author and leader 
of the National League for Democracy (NLD). Thidas numerous short 
stories often deal with the poverty she saw in the course of her medical 
practice, and the damage done in her country by successive repressive 
regimes. Because of her work with the NLD, she has had difficulty publ
ishing, and a novel has subsequently been banned. 

Each of the 100-plus Festival events will feature an empty chair to 
symbolize this author's absence from the Festival as well as the many 
other writers detained around the world. Throughout the Festival, PEN 
Canada will circulate a petition on Dr. Thidas behalf and on behalf 
of other writers currently imprisoned or under threat. PEN Canada calls 
for her immediate and unconditional release, and pending that, asks that 
she be given humane treatment, including access to family, legal and 
medical counsel, and reading and writing materials. 


Date: Wed, 20 Nov 1996 18:41:28 -0500
To: nin@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: Dr. Ma Thida

Dear Ni Ni,

I am still here in Toronto. The writers festival went very well although it was 
tiring, I attended about 40 sessions. At each one of them an empty chair was 
reserved for Ma Thida in honour of her and of all other writers throughout 
the world who are persecuted and worse for what they are writing. The PEN
club presented her case and a petition was signed by many hundreds if not 
thousands of participants. 

Burma is still very much in the news here. I am interested in seeing what will 
happen at the APEC meeting in the coming days.

I do hope that personally you are feeling very well and - hoping to
seeing/hearing from you again soon. 

Your friend.

Date: Thu, 21 Nov 1996 07:43:51 -0500
To: Khin Ni Ni Thein <nin@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Subject: Re: More news

Dear Ni Ni,   

You can find the details of the writers festival and a reference to Ma Thi
Da at http://www.io.org/~ifoa/ of the Harbourfront Reading Series. See the
links: The 1996 Festival of Authors - Festival Events - PEN Canada Tribute.
The festival included more than 100 meetings (literary encounters) and at
each one of them was paid a special tribute to Ma Thida for whom was
placed on the stage an empty chair with her photo. The number of attendees 
at each of the meetings varied from about 20 to probably more than two thousands.
The typical number of attendees was in the range of 200 to 300. Most of the
meetings had different chairpersons who were prominent people from the
cultural life of Canada. At each meeting people were encouraged to sign a
petition to SLORC.

No need to mention me as the source.

My very best wishes,

Your friend.