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Political artist, hip hop singer banned from performing at charity event

(Mizzima News/IFEX) - 5 August 2011 - A political hip hop artist who was recently released from prison was banned from performing at a charity event in Rangoon. The artist, Zay Yar Thaw, is one of the founders of Generation Wave, an underground youth group that spreads pro-democracy messages using visual art and hip hop songs.

The charity event, featuring a live concert, was to raise funds for a home for sick and elderly people with no family members in Rangoon. The home, Seesaryait (Sunset Shelter), is managed by writer Than Myint Aung, who is also the secretary of the Free Funeral Service Society. The live concert was slated to be held on the islet of Hmyaw Sin Kyun on Kandawgyi Lake on 6 August. According to Zay Yar Thaw, police from Mingalar Taung Nyunt Township informed Seesaryait, the show's organizer, that if he were to perform the permit for the event would be revoked.

"The organizers said the police would revoke the permit if I was in the show. They said they replied to the police that the music association had not imposed the ban and asked which organization imposed the ban. The police said the ban came from higher authorities and they were unable to disclose any further information," Zay Yar Thaw told Mizzima.

"The government has declared that it is a democratic government, so it has the responsibility to explain who has imposed a ban on me, and why," said Zay Yar Thaw.

Zay Yar Thaw was arrested in 2008 for possessing foreign currency and for founding Generation Wave, which was declared illegal. He was sentenced to four years in prison and was released on 17 May after the president commuted his sentence. Most of the Generation Wave members were also arrested and jailed, including undergraduate students Aung Zay Phyo, Akar Bo and Thiha Win Tin.

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