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09 décembre 2006

Peter Gabriel and Gael Garcia Bernal to Host WITNESS’ Benefit Dec. 11, 2006

Event to highlight WITNESS’ ongoing work to end human rights abuses in Burma

(CSRwire) NEW YORK, NY - November 17, 2006 - Musician Peter Gabriel and film sensation Gael García Bernal will co-host the “Focus for Change” benefit for WITNESS, the international human rights group, on December 11, 2006 in New York City. The event, to be held at the Hammerstein Ballroom, will include performances by Paul Simon, Angélique Kidjo and Kate Pierson & Fred Schneider of the B-52’s.

WITNESS (, the New York-based organization that deploys video and technology to promote human rights causes worldwide, was co-founded in 1992 by Peter Gabriel. WITNESS has partnered with groups in more than 60 countries, bringing often unseen images, untold stories and seldom heard voices to the attention of key decision makers, the media, and the general public -- prompting grassroots activism, political engagement, and lasting change.

The December 11th event highlights WITNESS’ work in Burma, where over the past decade more than one million ethnic minority civilians in eastern Burma have fled from attacks of the SPDC - Burma's military regime - in a brutal campaign of repression, assimilation and counter-insurgency. Some have become refugees in Thailand and other neighboring countries, while others have been displaced inside the country. Burma dictator Than Shwe’s use of military force has resulted in extra-judicial killings, torture, rape, and forced labor on a massive scale. Over 3,000 villages have been destroyed or forcibly abandoned due to the military’s attacks. In the last six months alone, more than 20,000 people have been displaced from their homes and 5,000 fled to refugee camps in Thailand.

At the event, supporters will hear a keynote address urging effective international action by the UN Security Council by Mr. Kwe Say, a representative from WITNESS partner, Burma Issues, who fled an attack on his village and lived on the run as a child. Burma Issues, a Thailand-based organization staffed primarily by people who have fled from Burma, uses video to document the systematic repression of civilians by Burma's military government for international audiences and to educate and mobilize grassroots communities within Burma.

WITNESS’ benefit will also bring some of music’s best loved legends together to safeguard human rights and raise awareness of rights abuses all over the globe through the auction of a one-of-a-kind vintage Fairlight CMI keyboard signed by 43 of music’s biggest artists including Stevie Wonder, Bono, Herbie Hancock and Annie Lenox. The Fairlight CMI (Computer Music Instrument) was invented in 1978 and was the world’s first digital sampling keyboard. The keyboard, which was discontinued in the late 1980s, is now a highly prized collectors’ item. An online auction on EBay will begin on December 1, 2006 enabling music enthusiasts and collectors to bid on the keyboard in the ten days leading up to the auction. Then, on the evening of December 11th, an accompanying live auction will take place at the WITNESS benefit and the winning bid will be authenticated and announced.

Corporate sponsors of Focus for Change include Fairlight; DivX, Inc.; TED Conference; Griffin Public Relations & Marketing; Newscorp; Lindblad Expeditions; Deckers Outdoors Corporation; Hobie Surf Shop; EOS Airlines; Hennessy; Belvedere Vodka; Hudson Yards Catering; American Apparel; Chocolat Michel Cluizel; and Auction Cause.

Corporations or individuals interested in event sponsorship, can visit ( or contact Sara Federlein, WITNESS, 718.783.2000 ext. 304 or


WITNESS uses the power of video to open the eyes of the world to human rights abuses. By partnering with local organizations around the globe, WITNESS empowers human rights defenders to use video as a tool to shine a light on those most affected by human rights violations, and to transform personal stories of abuse into powerful tools of justice.

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