In celebration of Freedom to Read Week, the Tompkins County Public Library will host the Ithaca City of Asylum's annual "Voices of Freedom" event, featuring a reading by exiled Burmese writer and activist Khet Mar.
Persecuted by the Burmese government for her political activism, Khet Mar was sentenced in 1991 to ten years in prison for protesting the house arrest of democracy leader Aung Sun Suu Kyi, which prevented the leader from accepting the Nobel Peace Prize. Khet Mar was released after one year during a period of national amnesty, but future threats of imprisonment led her to seek refuge in the United States in 2007.
After fleeing Burma, Khet Mar became a visiting fellow at the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa, and in 2010 she participated in the Pen World Voices Festival of International Literature. She is currently writer-in-residence for the City of Asylum/Pittsburgh. She is the author of one novel, "Wild Snowy Night," several collectiongs of short stories, essays and poems. Her work has been translated into English and Japanese, has been broadcast on the radio and has been made into a film.
Founded in 2011, Ithaca City of Asylum, like City of Asylum/Pittsburgh, is part of a worldwide network that supports writers whose works are surpressed, whose lives are threatened, whose cultures are vanishing, or whose languages are endangered.
Khet Mar's reading and the reception following it are free and open to the public.