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26 mars 2006

Peter Gabriel to end humand rights abuses in Burma

Legendary Musician and Activist Peter Gabriel to visit Washington, DC to Urge UN Security Council Resolution, End to Human Rights Abuses in Burma

For Immediate Release: March 23rd, 2006
Contact: Jeremy Woodrum, (202) 223-0300 or Matisee Bustos (718) 783-2000 ext. 306

(New York and Washington, DC) -- Legendary musician and activist Peter Gabriel will visit the U.S. Senate on April 4th to host a film screening and discussion on the need for continued support in ending egregious human rights abuses in the Southeast Asian country of Burma, where more than a million people have been forcibly displaced and the “modern-day slavery” of forced labor prevails.

Gabriel plans to press for U.S. leadership in passing a UN Security Council resolution on Burma. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the authors of the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act, will host the event. The event, on Tuesday, April 4th at 3:00 pm in room SC-4 of the U.S. Capitol Building, is sponsored by WITNESS, the nonprofit human rights organization founded by Gabriel, and the U.S. Campaign for Burma. The event is open to the public.

“It is long overdue for the UN Security Council to respond to the deepening crisis in Burma," said Gabriel, "we need people of conscience to act now."

Gabriel will introduce the video “Always on the Run: Internally Displaced People in Karen State,” produced by WITNESS’ partner organization Burma Issues, as well as recent footage and testimony showing the increasingly desperate situation inside eastern Burma. Representatives from WITNESS and U.S. Campaign for Burma will be available to answer questions on the situation.

“Always on the Run" captures the fears and hopes of people caught in one of the world's most serious humanitarian crises—forcible displacement in eastern Burma. Over the past decade, Burma's dictator Than Shwe has destroyed 2,700 villages in a brutal anti-insurgency campaign that has left over half a million people homeless in the country's eastern jungles and forced millions to flee the country. Child mortality and malnutrition rates in eastern Burma are now comparable to those among internally displaced persons in the horn of Africa.

The United Nations Commission on Human Rights and General Assembly have passed 28 consecutive resolutions condemning the atrocities. Instead of honoring these nonbinding UN resolutions, soldiers of Than Shwe's military regime continue the onslaught—in the past few weeks thousands more persons have fled their homes in fear to hide in the jungle, or cross into neighboring Thailand.

Concerned about the situation in the country and its impact on regional peace and security, the UN Security Council considered Burma for the first time in history in an informal briefing on December 16th, 2005. South Africa’s Nobel Peace Prize recipient Desmond Tutu and former Czech president Vaclav Havel have launched a global campaign for the Security Council to go further and pass a formal resolution demanding change.

The video offer insight into just one of the reasons UN Security Council action is merited. Reports make clear that the ruling military junta has engaged in a deliberate policy to repress the democracy movement led by Aung San Suu Kyi, the world’s only imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize recipient; and that it also conducts a scorched earth policy against ethnic minorities that includes the destruction of food storage, production sources and even entire villages.

Additionally, the military junta (considered one of the world’s most brutal military regimes) has forcibly recruited 70,000 child soldiers—more than any other country in the world—forced millions into what the International Labor Organization calls “modern slavery,” and locked up over 1,100 political prisoners. ##

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