Staying Alive

SANDRO TUCCI / TIME LIFE PICTURES / GETTY IMAGES

SCHOOL OF HARD KNOCKS: Students marching on Sept. 1, 1988

Three years ago in Rangoon I met an extraordinary man with an ordinary name. Once a physics student at Rangoon University, Jimmy had just been released from jail after 16 years for his role in the democracy uprising that began on Aug. 8, 1988. He had been tortured in jail and robbed of his youth. I asked him how he planned to use his freedom. "I will take a rest," he replied in rusty English. "Then I will continue to do my activity for democracy."

And he did. Last August Jimmy —...

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