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Activists to Rally for World’s Most Prominent Political Prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi On 61st Birthday (click to view PDF)

UN Security Council May Act on Burma for First Time in History

For Immediate Release

June 17th, 2006
Contact: Jeremy Woodrum (202) 223-0300

(Washington, DC) Activists in over 270 locations throughout the United States and in 13 countries are taking action to demand the release of the world’s most prominent political prisoner, Aung San Suu Kyi on June 17th in recognition of her 61st birthday. The events represent the largest coordinated international action for Burma in history and come at a time when the UN Security Council weighs the possibility of passing the first-ever resolution on Burma.

“For the first time in history the United Nations Security Council may get involved in constructively solving Burma’s problems” said Aung Din, policy director of the U.S. Campaign for Burma. “We are organizing these events to honor Aung San Suu Kyi but also to press for a Security Council resolution. The longer the UN waits, the more people will die in 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, the Presidential Medal of Freedom from then President Bill Clinton. Her admirers include Nobel Peace Prize recipients Desmond Tutu and Adolfo Perez Esquivel, musicians Bono, Damien Rice, R.E.M., and Ani DiFranco, and political leaders from all parts of the political spectrum.

At the over 270 events, individuals will “arrest” themselves for 24 hours in solidarity with Aung San Suu Kyi, who has spent 10 of the last 17 years under house arrest. During the “arrests”, individuals will invite friends, family, and colleagues to watch a rough cut of a documentary being made on Aung San Suu Kyi and Burma, titled “Do-Ayay: Our Cause”. “Do-Ayay” means “our cause” in Burmese language and serves as the rallying cry for human rights and democracy in the country. The film includes footage of many world leaders speaking about Aung San Suu Kyi, including Bono, Presidents Clinton and Bush, Anjelica Huston, Anthony Kiedis of the band Red Hot Chili Peppers, and others.

On Saturday June 18th, acclaimed musician Ani DiFranco will speak about Aung San Suu Kyi during her Washington, DC concert. The show will be recorded and then subsequently broad cast inside Burma via satellite television. This new technology will allow DiFranco to speak directly to the Burmese people, a 21st century version of how musicians used to play songs and concerts at the Berlin Wall when eastern Germany was under communist rule. Western music is greatly popular in Burma.

Individuals will also film their “arrests” and messages to the people of Burma for broadcast into Burma via satellite television in a new project by US Campaign for Burma called “Beaming Burma!”

After years of failed United Nations diplomacy on Burma, the United States this month announced its intention to press for a binding resolution on Burma at the Security Council. The effort was launched after the release of a report commissioned by South Africa’s Nobel Peace Prize recipient Desmond Tutu and former Czech president Vaclav Havel that documented Burma’s threat to regional peace and stability. The push for UN Security Council action has changed international dynamics on Burma, and Burma’s military regime appears to be on the defensive, issuing several statements denouncing the effort. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan’s top political deputy visited Burma in recent weeks publicly said Aung San Suu Kyi would be released soon, only to be rebuffed by the military regime who subsequently extended her arrest for another year.

Last year, 60 events were planned in the United States and around the world, and organizers say the increase reflects a growing interest in Aung San Suu Kyi and Burma.

“The world is waking up to the struggles of this amazing woman,” said Aung Din. “She is the Nelson Mandela of Asia.”