Rapper-turned-politician U Phyo Zeya Thaw, who also went by the stage name Nitric Acid was one of four democracy activists hanged by the Burmese junta on Saturday.
The global community jointly condemned the ruling military after it was announced on Monday that four men, all of whom were accused of aiding a civilian resistance movement, were executed.
Zeya Thaw was a close ally of ousted former leader and Democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi.
Both were members of the National League for Democracy (NLD), which had been elected by popular vote to lead Myanmar before a military coup on Feb. 1, 2021, threw the country into another chapter of dictatorship rule.
After being detained, tried and convicted of at least 20 criminal offenses, Suu Kyi, 77, was moved into a solitary confinement prison earlier in June.
Zeya Thaw, whose mother Daw Khin Win May confirmed his death, pioneered one of Myanmar’s first hip-hop groups, using music as a form of protest against the military dictatorship’s first round of rule in the early 2000’s.
“With hip-hop, we can express ourselves without fear,” he said in an interview in 2011 after being released from prison for the first time. “Music can make us brave.”
Below is a fan-made video with audio from one of Zeya Thaw’s songs, “Generation Driven by Faith.”
The rapper made a career pivot in 2012 when he successfully ran for Parliament in 2012. As a member of the NLD, he grew particularly close to Suu Kyi, traveling with her and supporting her.
Zeya Thaw is survived by his mother, sister Daw Phyu Pa Pa Thaw and fiancée Thazin Nyunt Aung.
“I will always be proud of my son because he gave his life for the country,” said his mother. “He is the martyr who tried to bring democracy to Myanmar.”
Since the four executions, the Myanmar junta has executed three more political prisoners, although their identities have yet to be confirmed. More deaths are expected to take place, with 11,815 people still detained, as reported by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, an organization that monitors arrests.