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Leading Member of Congress to Lead Protest at Embassy of Burma (click to view PDF)

For Immediate Release
June 14th, 2005
Contact: Lynne Weil, (202) 225-6735, Office of Congressman Tom Lantos or Jeremy Woodrum (202) 246-7924, US Campaign for Burma

Tom Lantos, Top Democrat on International Relations Committee, To Deliver 6,000 Birthday Cards Demanding Release of World’s Only Imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize Recipient Aung San Suu Kyi

(Washington, DC) Tom Lantos (D-CA), the ranking member on the House International Relations Committee, will lead a protest in front of the Embassy of Burma on June 17th to demand the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, the world’s only imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize recipient. He will attempt to deliver 6,000 birthday cards sent by individuals and organizations around the world commemorating Suu Kyi’s 60th birthday.

 The visual protest will coincide with protests at one dozen Burmese embassies around the world, including in London, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, and South Africa.

The event is modeled on a global effort in 1988 to free then-imprisoned South African leader Nelson Mandela called “Mandela at 70”. Governments, organizations, and individuals around the world are organizing action to demand the release of Suu Kyi. In London, Prime Minister Tony Blair will discuss action on Burma with a prominent women’s delegation. Across the United States, 60 groups plan to “arrest” themselves and hold educational events for 24 hours in solidarity with Aung San Suu Kyi, who is imprisoned in her home. The cities of San Francisco, Ithaca, and Portland have declared June 19th Aung San Suu Kyi day. 

Leading Irish musician Damien Rice plans to release a new song and music video dedicated to Aung San Suu Kyi entitled “Unplayed Piano”. Further, in a move reminiscent of musicians playing at the Berlin Wall during the 1980s, music superstars R.E.M. plan to broadcast a portion of their concert on Aung San Suu Kyi’s birthday inside Burma via satellite, reaching at estimated 10 million people inside the authoritarian country.

In Southeast Asia, a groundbreaking caucus of elected members of parliament throughout Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines plan a public display of support for Aung San Suu Kyi. The newly formed caucus represents the first time regional leaders have organized a concerted push for Suu Kyi’s freedom over the past decade.

At the protest in Washington, DC scores of supporters will demonstrate across the street from the embassy beginning at 10:00 am. At approximately 10:15, Congressman Lantos will give a speech and then proceed to cross the street with several of the birthday cards. Organizers do not know if the embassy will accept the birthday cards. 

Aung San Suu Kyi leads Burma’s vibrant democracy and human rights movement. Her political party, the National League for Democracy, won an estimated 82% of seats in parliament in Burma’s last election, but the ruling dictators ignored the results. Her overwhelming popularity among the Burmese people and her commitment to justice and democracy has led her to become known as the “Nelson Mandela of Asia”.

Aung San Suu Kyi has won over 70 major international awards for her work on behalf of the people of Burma, including the Nobel Peace Prize, Sakharov Prize from the European Parliament, and the US Presidential Medal of Freedom. She has called on individuals, organizations, and governments around the world to support Burma’s democracy movement, stating, “Please, use your liberty to promote ours.”

Tom Lantos serves as the ranking member on the House International Relations Committee. He was 16 years old when Nazi Germany occupied his native Hungary. As a teenager, he was a member of the anti-Nazi underground and later of the anti-Communist student movement. He is the only Holocaust survivor ever to serve in the U.S. Congress. In 1983 he co-founded the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, and he continues to serve as its Co-Chairman.

Location: Embassy of Burma, 2300 S St,

NW Washington, DC 20008
Date and Time: June 17th, 10:00 AM