Launched in 2008, the Freedom to Create Prize is a celebration of the courage and creativity of artists, and the positive influence of their work to promote social justice and inspire the human spirit. The Prize is open to all forms of art, in any creative field and to any individual or group of any gender, religion or nationality.
A total prize fund of US$100,000 is awarded to the winning artists and their nominated advocacy organisations to further the cause their artwork has highlighted. In 2011 the prize received over 2000 entries from more than 145 countries around the globe. The winners were announced at a ceremony amongst a variety of events held between 14-19 November in Cape Town, South Africa.
The Freedom To Create Main Prize winner was Sister Fa, an internationally renowned female rap artist from Senegal, who has devoted her work to raising awareness on the traumatic and harmful consequences of female genital mutilation. Sister Fa is an inspiring example of how many artists around the world are using their talent to stand up for social justice and in defense of human dignity.
The Freedom to Create Imprisoned Artist Prize winner was Win Maw, one of Burma’s most famous musicians and human rights activist who has been imprisoned in Myanmar (formerly Burma) since 2008. Win Maw was nominated for the award by Freemuse, an independent international organisation which advocates freedom of expression for musicians and composers worldwide.
In 2009, Win Maw was sentenced to further ten years imprisonment – an addition to the eight year sentence he received in 2008. 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.
Win Maw contributed his musical talent to the award winning documentary ‘Burma VJ’. He expresses the political views of the Burmese people with his music, which provides a rallying point for the masses during the numerous political upheavals in Myanmar. He is a leading exponent of artists giving voice to democratic movements for social change. Despite the risks to his personal safety, Win Maw continues to inspire young artists with his music even from prison.
Visit the Freemuse website to listen to some of Win Maw's songs, and watch Aung San Suu Kyi's specially recorded congratulatory message below.