There are two photos of Nay Phone Latt that I love. In the first one, he's in a vacant lot flying a kite. In the other, he's standing in front of a wall-size King Kong poster, a dinosaur lunging for his right ear.
Looking at these, it takes no great leap to guess what he is: a poet and blogger. And since he lives in Burma, you can guess what else he is: a prisoner.
The recipient of this years PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award, Nay Phone Latt, 29, is the voice of a generation of Burmese who are finding ways around an aging regimes desperate censorship. When the junta there cracked down on Buddhist-monk-led demonstrations in 2007 and restricted press coverage, Nay Phone Latts blog was a go-to source for international journalists. For this, he was arrested and is serving 12 years.
As Burma charts its future in this crucial year, what it really needs is kite flyers who stand up to giants. Will the generals let him go free?
Rushdie is a novelist
Correction appended: April 30, 2010. The original version of this article misidentified the poster as King Kong vs. Godzilla. The poster depicts King Kong.
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