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16 décembre 2006

Season of Fear

Hollywood, music stars call for UN action against Myanmar

The Associated Press, Friday, December 15, 2006, BANGKOK, Thailand

Hollywood and music stars, including Tim Robbins and Kate Pierson of The B-52s, have called on the United Nations to pass its first-ever resolution on Myanmar where a brutal offensive against ethnic minority people is continuing, a press release received Saturday said.

The appeal was delivered in a letter sent to the office of the U.N. secretary general Friday after a gathering in New York City earlier in the week by nearly 500 activists to highlight the humanitarian crisis in Myanmar, also known as Burma, the private human rights group WITNESS said.

"It is past time for the issue of Burma to be addressed by the UN's most powerful body, the Security Council. In eastern Burma, over 3,000 villages have been destroyed, forcibly abandoned or forcibly relocated in the past 10 years," the letter said, urging the resolution be passed before the end of the year.

The United States, which persistently condemns Myanmar for its human rights abuses, is circulating a draft resolution that it plans to introduce before the council to press the country's military government to change policies that constitute a threat to international peace and security.

Celebrities signing the letters included Oscar winner Robbins, British rock musician Peter Gabriel, Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal, Nile Rodgers of Chic, Angélique Kidjo and Suzanne Vega.

Human rights groups say government troops have torched villages, killed innocent civilians, raped women and herded villagers into military-controlled zones in an ongoing offensive against the Karen ethnic minority in eastern Myanmar. The government, which denies committing any atrocities, is waging a nearly year-long offensive to suppress a Karen insurgency that first erupted in the late 1940s.

The Thailand Burma Border Consortium, the main aid agency caring for tens of thousands of refugees along the Thai-Myanmar frontier, estimates that this year alone violence forced 82,000 people to leave their homes. Since 1996, more than 3,000 villages have been destroyed or abandoned in eastern Myanmar and more than 1 million people displaced, according to its most recent report. Major uprooting and abuses have also occurred in other ethnic minority areas such as Shan State.

The United States and other countries have also urged the junta to free all political prisoners including pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who remains under house arrest in Yangon. But Washington faces an uphill struggle in getting the council to take tough action against Myanmar. China strongly opposed putting the country on the agenda as did Russia, and both are veto-wielding members of the Security Council. The junta took power in 1988 after crushing the democracy movement led by Nobel prize-winning Suu Kyi. In 1990, it refused to hand over power when Suu Kyi's party won a landslide election victory.

13 décembre 2006

Peter Gabriel on TEDTalks

Musician and activist Peter Gabriel explains the personal motivation behind his work with human-rights organization Witness, which gives video cameras to ordinary citizens to document human-rights abuses, so the perpetrators may be brought to justice. He shares stories of citizen journalists in action, and poses the question: if injustice happens and a camera is there to capture it, can it be ignored? Gabriel first took the musical stage by storm with the band Genesis, but has enjoyed a successful solo career with hits like "In Your Eyes." In 1989 he founded the Real World label for global music and the Real World Studios in Bath, England. In 1992 he co-founded Witness.(Recorded February 2006 in Monterey, CA. Duration: 14:50)

Download this talk: Audio (MP3) | Video (MP4)