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Jul 25, 2023

In memory of Mr Phyo Zeya Thaw, the EUVP Alumnus of 2019 from Myanmar

Mr Phyo Zeya ThawWe were deeply saddened by the news that on 23 July 2022 Myanmar’s military regime executed Phyo Zeya Thaw, a former Member of Parliament and EUVP Alumnus of 2019, together with other prominent activists: Kyaw Min Yu, Aung Thura Zaw, and Hla Myo Aung. The European Union strongly condemned these executions and stands with the people of Myanmar.

Phyo Zeya Thaw was a prominent Burmese politician, parliamentary democracy activist and hip-hop artist born on 26 March 1981. Zeya Thaw served as a member of Pyithu Hluttaw, the Lower House of the Burmese parliament, and was elected to this position alongside opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi on 1 April 2012. In November 2021, Zeya Thaw was arrested by the Myanmar military junta, and in January 2022, he received a death sentence. The junta declared that his execution was imminent in June 2022. Tragically, on 23 July 2022, along with three other democratic leaders, he was executed. His unwavering commitment to parliamentary democracy and music made him a significant figure in Myanmar's public life.

Moreover, Phyo Zeya Thaw played a crucial role as one of four founders of Generation Wave, a youth movement that strongly opposed Burma’s State Peace and Development Council. The movement emerged on 9 October 2007, in the aftermath of the Saffron Revolution, a series of anti-government protests. Generation Wave creatively employed graffiti and pamphlets as effective means to disseminate pro-democracy messages, voicing their aspirations for a more democratic society.

A prominent hip-hop artist, he started his career as a musician in 1997. His music often expressed his pro-democratic values. In a 2011 interview Phyo Zeya Thaw said: “With hip-hop, we can express ourselves without fear (…). Music can make us brave.”

On the anniversary of his death, the European Union Visitors Programme, in cooperation with the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the European Parliament in ASEAN released a special video to commemorate Phyo Zeya Thaw’s life and activism. Watch the video HERE and find out more about Phyo Zeya Thaw.

Phyo Zeya Thaw will remain forever in our hearts and thoughts. His determination, courage and strength will never be forgotten.