Defying Big Brother

Kenneth Wong

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U Win Tin spent 19 years in Insein prison, mostly in solitary confinement Photograph: James Mackay/enigmaimages.net

In the 1980s, when Myanmar was still under military rule, my father managed to get a subscription of Newsweek — one of the perks of his job at the United States consulate in Yangon. On more than one occasion, the magazine arrived in the mail with curious ink blotches. The country’s postal system was notoriously prone to mishaps, but this was no accident. Someone had painstakingly blocked out specific sentences and paragraphs with a broad-tipped black marker. This was a telltale sign of the government’s displeasure at a certain news item.

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