Monday, June 15, 2009

Former Political Prisoners Join ‘Free Suu Kyi’ Campaign


More than 100 former political prisoners around the world have added their names to a statement calling for the release of Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and for the UN Security Council to establish a global arms embargo on the military-ruled country.

The former political prisoners come from over 20 countries across Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe. They have all signed a campaign called "64 words for Aung San Suu Kyi"—launched May 27 and which asks Suu Kyi's supporters to tweet, write text messages or send video and photos to its Web site,—to mark her 64th birthday on June 19.

Organizers of the campaign include Human Rights Watch, the US Campaign for Burma, Burma Info Japan, the Open Society Institute, France's Info Birmanie and Amnesty International.

The 64-word message from the former political prisoners says: "The continued denial of your freedom unacceptably attacks the human rights of all 2,156 political prisoners in Myanmar. As those also incarcerated for our political beliefs, we share the world's outrage. We call on the United Nations Security Council to press the Myanmar Government to immediately release all political prisoners, and to restrict the weapons that strengthen its hand through a global arms embargo."

Several of the signatories are themselves under house arrest in China, including Yuan Weijing and Zeng Jinyan.

Others who have added their names include:

Anwar Ibrahim, former Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia;
Ingrid Betancourt, former senator and Nobel Peace Prize nominee kidnapped by the Colombian FARDC;
Kim Dae-jung, former president of South Korea and Nobel Peace Prize laureate;
Lech Walesa, former president of Poland and Nobel Peace Prize laureate;
the Nelson Mandela Foundation; Shirin Ebadi, lawyer and Nobel Peace Prize laureate;
Shao Jiang, a survivor of the Tiananmen Square massacre;
Terry Waite, the British humanitarian and author;
Vaclav Havel, writer and former President of the Czech Republic; and
Yuri Feodorovich Orlov, nuclear physicist and former Soviet dissident.

"Aung San Suu Kyi's continued detention shames Asia," wrote Kim Dae-jung, while Anwar Ibrahim urged the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to lift its policy of nonintervention in Burma.

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