Seeking Transitional Justice

Letyar Tun

Letyar Tun is a former political prisoner. He spent nearly twenty years in prison, of which fourteen were years on death row, for his student activism against the regime. He was pardoned in the 2012 Presidential Amnesty.

Letyar was so inspired during the teaching seminars with which Framing the Transition began, that he decided to quit his job as a newspaper editor to dedicate himself to becoming a fulltime documentary photographer.

His photography essay is about the lack of transitional justice in Myanmar. There are thousands of people like Letyar in Myanmar – former political prisoners. Today they are forgotten, for until now, there have been very few official steps to recognize their past suffering – not even symbolically – nor to make their jailors accountable. The reigning political dialogue is of national reconciliation and looking forward.

Protesting against this historical amnesia, Letyar says, “our country has long been traumatised, we must give ourselves a long time to heal. We can forgive, but we can never forget.” And so he has decided to make a photography essay that is a living memorial, taking portraits of the surviving family members of those political prisoners who died in Myanmar’s prisons.

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