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280 Events in 17 Countries To Honor World’s Only Imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize Recipient on Birthday (click to view PDF)

Activists Call On China to End “Unilateral” Burma Policy

For Immediate Release
June 14, 2007
Contact: Jeremy Woodrum: (202) 234-8022

(Washington, DC, June 14, 2007) At over 280 events in 42 U.S. states and 17 countries, citizens around the world are preparing to commemorate the birthday of the world’s only imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize recipient Aung San Suu Kyi and demand action by China, the leading ally of Burma’s military regime. Suu Kyi’s birthday falls on June 19th, and activists are planning events beginning on June 16th.

“The world is finally beginning to wake up to the incredible struggle of Aung San Suu Kyi, the ‘Gandhi of Southeast Asia,’” said Aung Din, policy director of U.S. Campaign for Burma and a former political prisoner in the Southeast Asian country. “The events around Aung San Suu Kyi’s birthday represent a new, serious, high-level campaign to bring change to the 55 million people of Burma and call on China to modify its unquestioning support for the Burmese junta. In the coming months we are going to make this one of the most important issues in the world.”

Highlights of the events include:

- In the United States, 250 groups in 42 states will “arrest” themselves for 24 hours in solidarity with Aung San Suu Kyi, during which they will stay at home for 24 hours. They will hold house parties for a portion of this 24-hour period to raise money for US Campaign for Burma, a leading international organization working to restore democracy and human rights in Burma

- Members of the U.S. Congress, led by Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Tom Lantos will host a ceremony for Aung San Suu Kyi on June 19th at 11:00 am in Rayburn Building Room #2200

- In Hollywood, Creative Artists Agency, one of the movie and music industries’ largest talent agencies, will host a film screening and reception to honor Suu Kyi on June 19th at 7:00 pm. Jack Healey of the Human Rights Action Center and Jeremy Woodrum of US Campaign for Burma will headline the event.

- In Thailand, South Korea, India, Japan, Canada and elsewhere members of parliaments are demanding further action by their governments

- In Wisconsin, USCB member Michael Bootzin will attempt to break the Guinness book of World Records mark by speaking for over four days consecutively without rest, during which he will read the writings and speeches of Aung San Suu Kyi

Aung San Suu Kyi is the leader of Burma’s democracy movement. She led her political party, the National League for Democracy, to a landslide 82% victory in Burma’s last democratic election following a massive crackdown on democracy activists by the ruling military regime. One month ago, 59 prominent former Presidents and Prime Ministers from Africa, Latin America, the United States, Europe, and Asia sent a letter to Than Shwe, the leader of Burma’s military regime, calling for change in Burma. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for the release of Suu Kyi last month but was rejected by Than Shwe.

Earlier this year, hopes for constructive change in Burma were raised as the United Nations Security Council held its first-ever vote on Burma, which garnered enough votes to pass. Despite gaining strong support, the measure was vetoed by China and Russia. China is the Burmese military regime’s primary benefactor, sending billions in arms and weaponry and importing massive quantities of natural resources. China is finding itself increasingly isolated on Burma as its neighbors in Asia.

Frustrated by China’s refusal to play a responsible role in supporting United Nations efforts on Burma, activists are studying a concerted campaign to expose China’s support of Burma’s military regime as the Olympics approach.

“Aung San Suu Kyi is imprisoned by Burma’s ruling military regime,” added Aung Din. “But, with China refusing to support UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s call for her release, Aung San Suu Kyi is looking more like China’s prisoner as well.”

Besides locking up Suu Kyi, Burma’s military regime has destroyed 3,000 villages in eastern Burma, forcing 1.5 million people to flee their homes as refugees and internally displaced persons, as well as recruited up to 70,000 child soldiers, far more than any other country in the world. Up to 1,300 political prisoners remain behind bars including elected members of Suu Kyi’s political party.