Thida - IWP Fellow 2009-2009

Author of a novel, The Sunflower, and of a collection of short stories, In the Shade of an Indian Almond Tree, among other works, Ma Thida, Brown’s 2008 – 2009 IWP Fellow, is a surgeon as well as the prolific writer of many articles and stories about the damage done to her home country, Burma.  In 1993, she was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment in Yangon’s Insein Jail for “endangering the public peace, having contact with illegal organizations, and distributing unlawful literature.”  The charges were based on Thida’s work to promote democratic change as campaign assistant to Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel laureate and one of the founders of Myanmar’s main opposition party, The National League for Democracy.  Volunteer doctor and fundraiser for the Muslim Free Hospital, a charity clinic established in 1937, Thida was among the many health professionals who treated those injured during  pro-democracy demonstrations in 1988.  She received a Reebok Human Rights Award in 1996, and was released from prison in 1999 on “humanitarian grounds” due to health problems.  At this time, her books are still banned in her homeland.