(Interview) – Hip hop singer and Generation Wave leader Zay Yar Thaw, 31, was released on Tuesday from Kawthoung Prison, where he was serving a four-year prison term. The Generation Wave group was formed during the 2007 Saffron Revolution under his leadership.
Question: Your family is now awaiting your release and arrival at Rangoon Airport. How did the authorities inform you of your release?
Answer: I was released from Kawthough Prison on Tuesday at about 1:30 in the afternoon. The prison authorities informed us that the amnesty order commutes all prison sentences by one year. They informed me last night that I would be released today as my remaining prison term is less than one year. My family knew this news in advance. They contacted the prison when they heard this amnesty order broadcast last night and asked if I was included in the list of prisoners who would be released. The prison authority gave my family an affirmative answer.
Q: How do you feel when you are released?
A: There are many more prisoners of conscience in prisons across the country. I cannot feel happy when many more prisoners are still behind bars. There are many political prisoners who are my brothers and sisters in these prisons. I hope all of them are released soon. Only after their release, can I fully enjoy my release.
Q: How did you enter politics?
A: I joined politics as a young man who could not accept injustice and submissiveness. I had no specific objective before, but after being in prison for more than three years, I had time for introspection on my life and work. I realized even more that we should work in the political area.
Q: Did your friends turn their back on you when you were working in politics?
A: No, none of my friends turned their back on me. All of my friends including Yan Yan Chan and Myo Kyawt Myaing warmly welcomed me today when I was released from prison. Our artist community came and saw me today. I heard that, in the past, some people severed ties with those who worked for politics. These people were isolated and outcast. Now the situation has changed. People now realize that working is politics is good and not a crime. I was very happy when I saw all my friends again.
Q: Do you regret having served prison time for your politics?
A: I feel my life is more meaningful than before. Now I’m 31 years old. I am sorry that I wasted my past 26 years by not playing a more important role in life. Politics is noble work and good. I hope all young people become interested in politics. I will take up a political role again. I hope everyone does.
Q: What your parents want you to do after your release?
A: My parents always support me whatever I do. They are modern and broadminded people. I have not yet talked with my parents since my release. I am answering interviews and talking to my friends who came to see me. My family understands me and forgives me for not being able to talk with them yet.
Q: Did you write any poems in prison?
A: We could not have paper and a pen in prison. So I wrote some poems and stored them in my mind only. I will show you the poems when I write them down on paper.
Q: What would you like to say about the Generation Wave group that you formed?
A: We did politics in the name of Generation Wave (GW) with like-minded friends. We pushed for change in the country when we felt we could not tolerate the situation anymore. I do not know yet what the group has been working on during the past three years. I have lost contact with them. But I believe they are working on something useful and valuable for our country. I applaud them and encourage them.