A simple acoustic guitar fetched 58.8 million kyat (nearly US $70,000) at an auction held by three prominent leaders of the 88 Generation Students group during a fund-raising concert on Saturday at the Myanmar Convention Centre in Rangoon.
Former political prisoners Min Ko Naing, Pyone Cho and Htay Kywe all contributed in painting the guitar, depicting scenes from their youth such as graduating and walking around the grounds of Rangoon University.
Pyone Cho told The Irrawaddy on Monday that after several members of the 88 Generation organization were released from prison last year, some of their former cellmates who were artists suggested making and painting a guitar to auction for charity.
SkyNet, Burma’s only privately owned television network, offered the final bid of 58.8 million kyat after concert organizers had invited bids beginning at 880,000 kyat ($1,000).
Saturday’s concert featured more than 15 bands and 60 singers who entertained an audience estimated at 2,000.
As of 7:30 that evening, organizers said the concert had raised more than 70 million kyat, of which 30 million will be donated to Kachin refugees and Kachin children affected by the ongoing conflict in Burma’s northernmost region. Another 20 million kyat is to be presented to displaced people in Arakan State while 10 million was to be set aside for victims of the recent monsoonal floods around the country.
Addressing the audience at the beginning of the concert, Min Ko Naing said that cooperation is “a force,” and one which will open up a brighter future in Burma for those who seek freedom, justice and equal rights.
He thanked the concert-goers for their support—tickets for the event cost between 10,000 and 15,000 kyat—and said that “money is just paper, but these donations are metta [loving kindness], which cannot be measured but which commemorate this monumental time in history.”
Min Ko Naing said that when he and his colleagues felt alone or sad in prison, music was a way for them to lift their spirits.
Aung Min and Soe Thein, two ministers from the Presidential Office in Naypyidaw, also attended the concert.
“We were more successful than we expected,” said Pyone Cho. “I just want to say thanks to our brothers and sisters who supported this concert.”