Friday, November 21, 2008

Hip-hop singer Zeyar Thaw given 6 years (2 stories)

by Nam Davies
20 November 2008

New Delhi (Mizzima)– The Rangoon Division, Lanmadaw Township court sentenced hip-hop singer Zeyar Thaw, a member of the band Acid, to six years imprisonment today.

Zeyar Thaw (a.k.a. Kyaw Kyaw), who is popular among Burmese youth, was prosecuted by the military regime under charges of illegally holding foreign currency and establishing an unlawful association.

"The judges pronounced their judgment today after taking testimony from the Military Affairs Security (MAS). He was sentenced to one year imprisonment on the charge of holding foreign currency and another five years for the charge of establishing an unlawful association. We had no chance to defend his case," lawyer Khin Than Htay, aunt of Zeyar Thaw, told Mizzima.

"He toured foreign countries as a singer, so he got some foreign currency. A Thai baht 100 denomination note, some change in Malaysian Ringgits and some Singapore dollars were found in his possession. It was not more than 10,000 kyat (US$ 8) in total," she added.

MAS arrested Zeyar Thaw on the 12th of March this year at a restaurant between Sayar San Road and 66th Street in Rangoon.

She is proud for her nephew, given a prison term as an artist, confessed his aunt.

"I'm proud of him as it is not a criminal conviction. I feel proud to see him performing his artistic duty," she said.

Generation Wave (GW), in an announcement, recognized Zeyar Thaw as a member of the organization.

GW is a youth movement that was formed during the September 2007 Saffron Revolution.

According to Burma's repressive penal code, dissidents can be sentenced for establishing associations and civil society organizations without permission from the government.

GW released an anti-junta album, in cooperation with the clandestine band Freedom Fighter, in which 'Rise up Burma' and 'No No No', an anti-constitutional referendum song, were featured.

In addition to Zeyar Thaw, five of his GW colleagues were also sentenced today in the same court, each receiving five years behind bars for their links to an allegedly unlawfully formed organization.

At least ten members of GW have been detained and more than 100 dissidents sentenced, to up to 65-year terms, within the last few weeks alone.

November 20, 2008

Hip-Hop Performer among Latest Victims of Court Crackdown

One of the most popular performers on Burma’s music scene, hip-hop star Zayar Thaw, was sentenced to six years imprisonment by a Rangoon court on Thursday for his involvement in anti-regime protests.

Zayar Thaw was among at least 20 detainees sentenced on Thursday in Burma’s continuing trials of opposition activists and members of the National League for Democracy. Six are members of the Generation Wave, a group of young activists formed during the September 2007 uprising.

Zayar Thaw, 27, joined three other musicians in founding Burma’s first hip-hop band, ACID, in late 2000. The band rapidly won a big following among young Burmese music-lovers. Zayar Thaw was arrested in March for his involvement in political activities.

Aung Gyi, a lawyer representing Zayar Thaw and five members of Generation Wave, told The Irrawaddy that a court in Rangoon’s Lamandaw Township convicted Zayar Thaw of contravening the criminal code’s section 24/1 relating to dealings in foreign currency and section 6/88, covering membership of an illegal organization.

Aung Gyi said the five members of Generation Wave were each sentenced to five years imprisonment on the section 6/88 charge. He identified them as Arkar Bo, Aung Zay Phyo, Thiha Win Tint, Wai Lwin Myo and Yan Naing Thu.

A special court in Rangoon’s Insein Prison sentenced 14 members of the opposition NLD to two and half year’s imprisonment on Thursday. One of the defendants, Tin Ohn, is in the prison hospital and was sentenced in his absence.

As international condemnation of the Burmese trials mounted, the Thailand-based Burmese Lawyers Council and the Global Justice Center in New York released a statement on Wednesday declaring that the judges are criminally liable for prosecution as co-conspirators in crimes against humanity. The eight judges, including Burma’s Chief Justice, Aung Toe, should be referred to the International Criminal Court, the two organizations said.

Their statement complained that the judges had not allowed the defendants to question prosecution witnesses, many of the accused did not have legal representation and those that did were not permitted to meet their lawyers in private.

The Burmese authorities transferred 15 of the sentenced prisoners, including the well-known activist Min Zaya and 1l other leading members of 88 Generation Students, to remote prisons across the country on Thursday.

Min Zaya was transferred to Lashio Prison in Shan State, Zaw Zaw Min to Toungoo Prison in Pegu Division, Jimmy to Taunggyi Prison in Shan State, Arnt Bwe Kyaw to Katha Prison in Sagaing Division, Than Tin to Sittwe Prison in Arakan State, Panneik Tun to Bahmao Prison in Kachin State, Kyaw Kyaw Htwe to Mergui Prison in Tenasserim Division and That Zaw to Moulmein Prison in Mon State.

Of the convicted women members of the 88 Generation Students group, Mar Mar Oo was transferred to Myingyan Prison in Mandalay Division, Thet Thet Aung to Thayawaddy Prison in Pegu Division, Mie Mie to Bassein Prison in Irrawaddy Division and Sandar Min to Myaung Mya Prison in Irrawaddy Division.

Two members of the Bogalay Township NPD were also transferred to outlying prisons. Thiha Aung was transferred to Lowikaw Prison in Karenni State and Aung Myo Paing to Kawthaung Prison in Tenasserim Division respectively.

One further activist, Min Han, was transferred to Lashio Prison in Shan State.

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