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Powerful Group of Hollywood Celebrities Call for UN Secretary General to “Personally Intervene” to Secure Release of World’s Only Imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize Recipient (click to view PDF)

Ban Ki-moon to “personally intervene” to secure the release of the world’s only imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize recipient Aung San Suu Kyi.

For Immediate Release

September 6, 2007
Contact: Jack Healey at (202) 547-2582 or Jeremy Woodrum (202) 234-8022

(Washington, DC, September 6, 2007) As protests continue in the Southeast Asian country of Burma, a powerful group of Hollywood actors and celebrities has launched an effort to press the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to “personally intervene” to secure the release of the world’s only imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize recipient Aung San Suu Kyi.

The effort, carried out in the form of a letter to the Secretary General, was organized by Oscar-winning actress Anjelica Huston along with the Human Rights Action Center and US Campaign for Burma. They appealed to the Secretary General: “We urge you to take action to secure her immediate release.”

“Aung San Suu Kyi is a woman that is taking on a brutal military dictatorship with nothing more than the truth in her heart and the support of her people,” said Jack Healey, founder of the Human Rights Action Center. “Aung San Suu Kyi is the Mandela or Gandhi of Asia.”

Added Jeremy Woodrum, co-founder of the US Campaign for Burma, “The situation inside Burma is grave, similar to that in Darfur. The silence of the world on Aung San Suu Kyi is unconscionable.”

Two of the signatories, Hollywood stars Eric Szmanda from the television show “Crime Scene Investigation” and Walter Koenig from “Star Trek” recently traveled to refugee camps on the Thailand-Burma border to lend support and demand the United Nations do more to help. The trips were organized by the Human Rights Action Center and US Campaign for Burma.

Aung San Suu Kyi is the world’s only imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize recipient, known for her charismatic Gandhian speeches calling for human rights and democracy in the Southeast Asian country of Burma. She has won over 60 international awards for her efforts to promote peaceful change in Burma, including the Sakharov Prize from the European Parliament and the Presidential Medal of Freedom from then-President Bill Clinton. Her admirers include Nobel Peace Prize recipients Desmond Tutu and Adolfo Perez Esquivel, and musicians R.E.M. and U2.

Aung San Suu Kyi is not just a human rights advocate, but the rightful leader of the 55 million people of Burma. In the country’s last election, she led her political party to a landslide victory, garnering 82% of the seats in parliament. The military regime, led by General Than Shwe, annulled the results and has led by brute force ever since. Suu Kyi has been locked up for 11 of the past 17 years.

Burma is ruled by one of the world’s most brutal military regimes, which has destroyed 3,000 villages in the eastern section of the country, forcing over 1.5 million people to flee their homes. The Associated Press has compared the military regime’s attacks on civilians in eastern Burma to the tactics of the Sudanese government in Darfur, labeling eastern Burma “Southeast Asia’s Darfur.” The regime has also recruited 70,000 child soldiers, far more than any other country in the world.

Suu Kyi is one of an estimated 1,200 political prisoners in Burma. She has been imprisoned for more than 11 of the past 17 years.

Huston became interested in Aung San Suu Kyi and Burma after learning about the situation from Jack Healey. Support for human rights runs in her family. Her father, the director John Huston, led the efforts against McCarthyism in 1950s Hollywood.