Generation Wave

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Generation Wave (Burmese: မျိုးဆက်သစ်လူငယ်များ အစည်းအရုံး) is a pro-democracy Burmese youth movement founded by Min Yan Naing, Moe Thwe, hip-hop star Zayar Thaw, and one other activist.[1][2]

Background and activism[edit]

Generation Wave was founded on 9 October 2007, following the anti-government protests popularly known as the Saffron Revolution, and used graffiti and pamphlets to spread messages opposing the State Peace and Development Council, Burma's military government.[2] Zayar Thaw reportedly developed one of the group's more widespread campaigns, bumper stickers reading "Change New Government" to apply to cars carrying "CNG" stickers (originally for "compressed natural gas").[2] The group's logo is a "red stencil of a fist giving the thumbs up".[3]

The group also circulated anti-government films, including Rambo,[4] in which the titular character battles Tatmadaw (Burmese military) soldiers in Karen State.[5] The film had been banned by the government for portraying the SPDC and its soldiers in a negative light.[6] In 2009, Generation Wave members recorded a hip-hop album known as "the black album", which they distributed by leaving unmarked copies in Burmese tea shops.[1]

As of 2009, the group was headquartered in the Thai-Burmese border town of Mae Sot;[7] however, its members are required by the group to maintain legal residence in Burma.[8] Membership in the group is restricted to those between 15 and 25 years of age.[3]

With the recent opening and changes in Burma, apparently Generation Wave is now 'above ground' in Rangoon (Yangon), and they recently announced a restructuring and change of name to "Generation Wave Institute." Said director MIn Yan Naing in March 2013: "Our aim is to register as an organisation, because we don’t want to be an illegal organisation – but during the [registration] process I was told to promise that I wouldn’t work with politics. But that is impossible, because all of our work is concerned with politics.”[9]

Government response[edit]

As of February 2010, about thirty members of the group had been imprisoned,[8] including Zayar Thaw, who was arrested at a Yangon restaurant with friends on 12 March 2008.[4] In April, Zayar Thaw's Acid co-founder and fellow movement member Yan Yan Chan was also arrested, reportedly along with his longtime girlfriend and future wife, Chilli.[10][11] On 20 November 2008, Zayar Thaw, Aung Zay Phyo, Arkarbo, Thiha Win Tin, Wai Linn Phyo and Yan Naing Thu were sentenced to five years' imprisonment apiece for breaking State Law and Order Restoration Council Law No. 6/88,[4] "illegal organizing under the Unlawful Association Act".[12] Amnesty International described this statute as "a vaguely worded law whose sweeping provisions can be interpreted as making it illegal to set up any kind of organisation".[13] Yan Yan Chan was released without charges on 7 January 2009.[14]

On 13 January 2012, many imprisoned Generation Wave members were released as part of a mass presidential pardon.[15]


  1. ^ a b Joseph Allchin (30 December 2009). "Fresh blood for a new decade". Democratic Voice of Burma. Archived from the original on 2 March 2011. Retrieved 8 May 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c Alex Elgee (26 March 2010). "Another Birthday behind Bars". The Irrawaddy. Archived from the original on 5 March 2011. Retrieved 7 May 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Catriona Richards (7 October 2010). "GENERATION WAVE: A source of inspiration". The Jakarta Post. Archived from the original on 10 October 2012. Retrieved 8 May 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c "AAPP Case No. 0062" (PDF). Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. Retrieved 7 May 2011. 
  5. ^ "Rambo Draws World’s Attention to Forgotten Crisis in Burma". Burma Campaign UK. 12 February 2008. Archived from the original on 27 July 2011. Retrieved 7 May 2011. 
  6. ^ Thomas Bell (18 February 2008). "Banned Rambo film hot property in Burma". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 3 June 2008. Retrieved 7 May 2011. 
  7. ^ Alex Wagner (17 November 2009). "Burma Journal: The Kids Are Alright -- a Democratic Youth Movement". Retrieved 8 May 2011. 
  8. ^ a b Rachel Harvey (24 February 2010). "Burma's youth rapping for change". BBC News. Archived from the original on 18 October 2010. Retrieved 7 May 2011. 
  9. ^ Maria Danmark (21 March 2013). "Myanmar's Generation Wave Institute looks to train MPs". The Myanmar Times. Archived from the original on 13 October 2014. Retrieved 1 May 2013. 
  10. ^ Ashin Mettacara (18 April 2008). "Yan Yan Chan Arrested". Archived from the original on 4 September 2011. Retrieved 8 May 2011. 
  11. ^ Min Lwin (18 April 2008). "Popular Burmese Rap Performer Arrested". The Irrawaddy. Archived from the original on 5 June 2011. Retrieved 8 May 2011. 
  12. ^ "5 Generation Wave activists sentenced". Mizzima News. 20 November 2008. Archived from the original on 19 January 2011. Retrieved 8 May 2011. 
  13. ^ "MYANMAR: Hip-Hop Artist and Student Activist Jailed for Peaceful Protest" (PDF). Amnesty International. Retrieved 8 May 2011. 
  14. ^ Than Htike Oo (7 January 2009). "Detained Hip Hop singer Yan Yan Chan released". Mizzima News. Archived from the original on 19 January 2011. Retrieved 8 May 2011. 
  15. ^ "Burma prisoner amnesty – Hla Hla Win walks". Democratic Voice of Burma. 13 January 2012. Archived from the original on 18 January 2012. Retrieved 13 January 2012. 

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