AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL - PRISONER OF CONSCIENCEIssued Friday 9th July 2010
Hip-hop star sentenced, Burma
The Cathedral works with Amnesty International to raise awareness of and ask for the release of prisoners of conscience. Salisbury Cathedral is committed to helping people who are excluded from the “normal” life that we enjoy. We want to use our visible position to effect change; challenging our congregation, supporters and visitors to face and tackle injustice. We feel that this is our Christian duty to address these issues, and that they are particularly relevant to Salisbury Cathedral, which is home to Gabriel Loire’s stunning stained glass window dedicated to Prisoners of Conscience and also to the best preserved original 1215 Magna Carta – often seen as a foundation stone of modern human rights.
Zayar Thaw is currently serving a six-year prison sentence in Burma (Myanmar). Amnesty International considers him to be a prisoner of conscience. Zayar Thaw, a popular Burmese rap singer, is a leading member of the Youth Activist Group Generation Wave, set up in response to the killings and mass arrests of peaceful pro-democracy demonstrators in August and September 2007. The youth group has undertaken graffiti and leafleting campaigns to mobilise peaceful protests against the military government. He was arrested in March 2008 and convicted in November of ‘forming an illegal organisation’ and illegal possession of foreign currency although, when arrested, he was carrying a total value of less than US$20. His sentence represents the maximum penalty for the two charges. Following his arrest on 12 March 2008, Zayar Thaw was held at Insein prison in his home town of Yangon. After being convicted he was moved to Kawthaung prison in the far south of Burma, making it difficult for his family to visit him. At least 13 other members of Generation Wave have also been arrested; six are known to be serving prison sentences of between five and eight years. APPEAL: Please write and call on the authorities to release Zayar Thaw immediately and unconditionally, to: His Excellency U Nay Win, Embassy of the Union of Myanmar, 19A Charles Street, Berkeley Square, London, W1J 5DX. Fax: (020) 7409 7043.