Speaking Truth to Power: Confronting Authoritarian Regimes
Raissa Robles, Raad Rahman, Tenzin Dickie & Jeremy Tiang
Speaking Truth to Power: Confronting Authoritarian Regimes

How is resistance possible when reality itself is obscured? In an era of “fake news” and more facts than anyone could hope to grasp, authoritarians rely on this uncertainty to consolidate their hold on power. Legendary journalist Raissa Robles joins us from the Philippines to share her new work, Marcos Martial Law: Never Again, which reappraises the era of Marcos and applies it lessons to what is unfolding today. Communications specialist for human rights advocacy and journalist Raad Rahman will share her research on state repression in Bangladesh, from the Rohingya refugees fleeing attacks in Myanmar to the persecution of LGBTQ Bangladeshis, and writer and translator Tenzin Dickie will discuss writing and translating work about Tibetans navigating the ongoing Chinese occupation. Moderated by AAWW’s Literary Editor Jeremy Tiang, our panel discusses the difficulty of telling stories that those in power would rather stay hidden.


Old Demons, New Deities: Twenty-One Short Stories from Tibet (OR Books, 2017) edited by Tenzin Dickie is the first English-language anthology of contemporary Tibetan fiction available in the West. The book collects 21 short stories by 16 writers in Tibet and the diaspora who write in Tibetan, English, and Chinese, creating a wide-ranging portrait of Tibetan writers who navigate occupation and exile. Tenzin’s writing has been published in Indian Literature, Apogee Journal, Tibetan Review, Himal SouthAsian and Cultural Anthropology. A 2014-2015 ALTA Fellow of the American Literary Translators’ Association, she holds an MFA from Columbia University and a BA from Harvard University. She is an editor at treasuryoflives.org, a biographical encyclopedia of significant figures from Tibet, Inner Asia, and the Himalayan Region.

Raad Rahman is a 2017 Open City Muslim Community fellow who writes about Muslim and immigrant communities in New York City and state repression in Bangladesh. Her June 2017 op-ed in the New York Times, “No Country for Bangladesh’s Gay Men,” follows the lack of justice for Xulhaz Mannan and Mahbub Rabbi Tonoy, two prominent LGBT activists in Bangladesh who were murdered by terrorists in 2016. She has written about politics, human rights and literature in VICE, the Guardian, the Paris Review, and more. In addition to writing, Raad has consulted on communications with human rights groups such as iProbono, UNICEF, and the International Center for Transitional Justice. Raad’s first novel, Framed Butterflies, was published by Bard College Press in 2005. She is currently working on a novel.

Celebrated Filipina journalist Raissa Robles’s new book Marcos Martial Law: Never Again: A Brief History of Torture and Atrocity Under the New Society, is a critical success in the Philippines, where it remains taboo to speak about torture and atrocities under Marcos and the growth of authoritarianism under President Rodrigo Duerte. Published in 2016, Marcos Martial Law is a finalist in the Philippines’s 2017 National Book Awards, and the winner of the International Award for Excellence in Journalism. Raissa is the senior Manila correspondent of the South China Morning Post and the publisher of the investigative newsblog of Philippine politics, RaissaRobles.com, which was judged “Best Society and Politics Blog in the Philippines” in 2015. Raissa’s reportage has also been published in the Times of London, The Mail Online, BBC Radio, and Reuters.

Jeremy Tiang is the AAWW’s Asia Literary Editor. He is the author of State of Emergency (Epigram Books, 2017) and It Never Rains on National Day (shortlisted for the Singapore Literature Prize). Jeremy is also a playwright, and has translated more than ten books from Chinese, including novels by Chan Ho-Kei, Zhang Yueran, Su Wei-chen and Yeng Pway Ngon. He is the recipient of a PEN/ Heim Grant, an NEA Literary Translation Fellowship, and a Henry Luce Foundation Fellowship.

The Transpacific Literary Project is funded by the Henry Luce Foundation.

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Speaking Truth to Power: Confronting Authoritarian Regimes

Raissa Robles, Raad Rahman, Tenzin Dickie & Jeremy Tiang
Thursday, October 19, 2017
7:00 PM
Asian American Writers’ Workshop
112 W 27 Street, 6th Floor
New York New York 10001
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