Karen Reggae Star, Saw Poe Kwar Still in Jail – Karen Artists and Community Campaign for his Release

While some of the well-known artists in Burma were granted amnesty on 2nd March 2022, Karen Reggae star Saw Poe Kwar is still in jail prompting calls for his release by Karen artists and youth groups.

Karen artists and youth communities used social media platforms to demand the release of Saw Poe Kwar who was arrested on the first day of the military coup on 1st February 2021 and charged under Article 505(a) and later sentenced to two years in jail.

Saw Poe Kwar’s arrest came on the same day as State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and President U Win Myint. Karen groups are concerned at the lack of information on Saw Poe Kwar’s current situation.

K Phoe Khwar, a Karen singer, said Saw Poe Kwar should have been included in the amnesty granted to artists on 2nd March 2022.

“I am pleased to hear many artists have been released. But I am not happy, because I still haven’t heard any news about reggae singer Saw Poe Kwar. As a Karen, I would like to say that I want him to be released. I always pray for his release.”

K Phoe Khwar also called on people to advocate for the release of singer Saw Poe Kwar.

The military regime released a statement granting amnesty and pardons for prominent artists who took part in the anti-coup protests, including actors Paing Ta Kun, Lu Min, Pyay Ti Oo, Eaindra Kyaw Zin, beauty blogger Win Min Than, and director Wine so that they could take part in state-building through their art.

Ko Myint Aung, one of the 88-generation students, said Saw Poe Kwar, who composed and sang songs, including peace songs, has only eight months left to serve on his sentence. Ko Myint Aung is concerned more legal actions will be used against Saw Poe Kwar if he continues to write and play music.

“He was sentenced to two years, so he should be released in around eight months time. There are concerns that he will be prosecuted again and again even after he is released.”

As the fans of Burmese artists rejoiced in their release, the Karen youth community posted on their social media accounts that they hoped Saw Poe Kwar would also be released.

A Karen youth who took part in the anti-coup protests spoke to Karen News.

“Saw Poe Kwar was among the first to be arrested. During our protests, we also demanded immediate and unconditional release of him and other detained Karen youths. I am saddened to see he and other jailed Karen youths are not included in the amnesty – they did nothing wrong.”

Sa Paung, a Karen singer, told Karen News, the lack of information about Saw Poe Kwar condition is a huge concern to both artists and the community.

“Even after one year of his arrest we’ve heard nothing about where he is being detained or what condition he is in. People shouldn’t forget him. I am worried about his safety. I want his fans and other artists to speak out for him.”

Social media campaigns pressing for the release of Saw Poe Kwar can be seen on the social media pages of Karen youth, Karen artists and members of his family.

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