On March 26, Burma's popular hip hop artist, Zayar Thaw, celebrated his 29th birthday serving his third year under detention in Burma's southernmost prison at Kawthaung. One of four founding members of the underground youth organization known as Generation Wave, he was arrested on March 12, 2008, charged with forming an illegal organization and sentenced to six years imprisonment. The five members of Generation Wave—Arkar Bo, Aung Zay Phyo, Thiha Win Tint, Wai Lwin Myo and Yan Naing Thu—were all arrested together at a restaurant on Saya San Road.

Set up during the 2007 Saffron Revolution, Generation Wave uses non-violent methods such as graffiti, slogans and pamphlets to politicize Burma’s younger generations. One of Generation Wave’s most prolific campaigns when they applied stickers with the slogan “Change New Government” on cars when they were modified to run on compressed neutral gas.

As well as being a musician, Zayar Thaw was also a social activist and used his music to raise awareness and funds through performing in charity concerts. In one concert he teamed up with the two famous Burmese poets, Saw Wai and Aung Way, for a fund-raising event for the White Rainbow Social Act Group, which raised money for HIV orphans sponsored by the charity founded by detained Burmese comedian Zarganar. Zayar Thaw also visited the orphanages that Zaganar's charity looked after, helping teach the children English with another famous rapper, Nge Nge.

Irrawaddy 2010.03.26