Win Maw, one of Burma’s most famous musicians, has been released from jail after four years of imprisonment. According to Democratic Voice of Burma, he was released at 13.40pm local time on 13 January from Kyaukphyu prison in Arakan state. His release was part of a wider political prisoner amnesty, Burma's most far-reaching to date, which saw 651 political prisoners released, including student leader Min Ko Naing and monk Ashin Gambira.
Alongside his musicianship, Win Maw was also one of the Video Journalists (VJ's) who contributed to the success of the award winning documentary ‘Burma VJ’, which uncovered Burmese regime brutality. When Win Maw was arrested for his activities in 2008 he was given eight years imprisonment, and in 2009 was sentenced to further ten years imprisonment. He was beaten and tortured during the early stages of his detention, accused of being the mastermind behind the in-country news coverage of the September 2007 monk-led uprising.
International freedom of expression organisation Freemuse have campaigned for Win Maw's release for several years. Last year he succeeded smuggling new songs out of the prison for Music Freedom Day, and he was also a winner of the 2011 Freedom to Create Prize.
This mass release of prisoners marks perhaps the boldest signal yet that change is underway in Burma, and followed only a day after the government agreed a ceasefire with the rebel Karen National Union (KNU) for the first time in more than six decades of conflict.