Pro-democracy youth group Generation Wave announced at a press conference on March 20 that they are restructuring the organisation with a new name, Generation Wave Institute, and a new two-year plan to expand their political strategy.
The general director of Generation Wave Institute, Min Yan Naing, told the Myanmar Times that they are taking further steps in becoming a legally registered organisation.
“Our aim is to register as an organisation, because we don’t want to be an illegal organisation – but during the [registration] process I was told to promise that I wouldn’t work with politics. But that is impossible, because all of our work is concerned with politics,” Min Yan Naing said.
Since 2007, Generation Wave operated illegally from Mae Sot in Thailand, carrying out a number of high profile campaigns against the government inside Myanmar.
The group became known for an anti-government film called Rambo that was distributed in unmarked packages in teashops, and bumper stickers that said “Change New Government” to satirise the slogan “Compressed Natural Gas”.
Between 2007 and 2011, 30 of the movement’s members were imprisoned for illegal organisation, but released as part of a mass presidential pardon in January 2012.
Generation Wave moved their operations back to Yangon in 2011 following the dissolution of Myanmar’s military regime.
Even though the structure of the organisation will change, the goals of the organisation are still the same, Min Yan Naing said.
“Our mission is to improve human rights leading towards development and democracy, encourage the young generation to take part in the development [of democracy] and raise awareness about certain topics, like democracy and social development,” he said.
To raise awareness about these goals, Generation Wave Institute looks to creative means: such as music and leafleting campaigns aimed at Myanmar’s youth.
Generation Wave Institute also wants to expand its target demographic and has ended a previous restriction barring entry for members over age 35. It announced it will continue offering workshops, training and capacity building and will extend this to non-members.
“We also want to support other organisations. Other organisations have contacted us and requested training, because they lack experience. Most of our staff and volunteers have already attended human rights and community training, so we can share our resources,” Min Yan Naing said.
But with the election coming up in 2015, they also want to offer training to members of parliament.
“We would like to give training to MPs and also the young generation in order to find those who are interested in becoming candidates for the election in 2015. At the moment, the question is who are going to be candidates in 2015? We want to train [potential candidates] on how to make campaigns, what democracy and human rights are and how to raise awareness in these areas,” he said.
The specifics of the new plan are still unclear while it is in the beginning stage. But Min Yan Naing said that the institute would try to find collaborators who can help them gain more experience to hold training sessions for parliament members.
Min Yan Naing says he is positive about Generation Wave Institute receiving its legal registration, and maintains it is possible that the institute will receive it within the coming months.
Min Yan Naing was one of the four people, together with the current MP Zayar Thaw, who founded Generation Wave in the wake of the Saffron Revolution in 2007.