Burma: It Can't Wait - Day 28: Damian Marley
Burma: It Can't Wait - Day 27: Famke Jannssen & Jason Schwartzman
Burma: It Can't Wait - Day 26: Joseph Fiennes
Burma: It Can't Wait - Day 25: Michelle Krusiec
Burma: It Can't Wait - Day 24: Kim Kardashian
Hollywood celebrities urge human rights in Myanmar (Burma)
By Richard C. Paddock, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
May 23, 2008
Dozens of Hollywood celebrities have joined together to call attention to the repressive military regime in Myanmar and the plight of Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, who has spent more than a decade under house arrest.
In more than 30 public-service spots that are being released online daily this month, actors and artists including Will Ferrell, Sarah Silverman, Ellen Page and Sylvester Stallone call for Suu Kyi's release and the establishment of democracy in Myanmar, also known as Burma.
"A human rights crisis is happening right now in the Southeast Asian country of Burma," Ferrell says in the first of the series. "Every now and again a single person or event captures the imagination and inspiration of the world. This moment belongs to Burma and to Aung San Suu Kyi."
Myanmar has been ruled by military regimes for nearly all of the past 46 years. Suu Kyi's political party won a landslide victory in a 1990 election and she was slated to become the country's next leader, but the regime threw out the results and arrested her. Suu Kyi, who will turn 63 next month, is the world's only imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize winner.
Most recently, the reclusive regime has come under harsh international criticism for refusing to accept foreign aid for victims of Cyclone Nargis, which killed at least 78,000 earlier this month and left hundreds of thousands more without adequate food, water or shelter.
The Web-based celebrity campaign, called "Burma: It Can't Wait," began May 1 but has been overshadowed by the cyclone, which struck Myanmar two days later. Organizers hope to raise Myanmar's profile in the same way that activists have put Chinese control of Tibet and the Darfur genocide on the map.
Another goal of the project is to sign up a million new members for the U.S. Campaign for Burma, a Washington-based organization that promotes democratic change in Myanmar.
The videos can be found at uscampaignforburma.org.
Some of the spots are sketches that try to draw attention to the troubled nation by injecting humor, such as one featuring Jennifer Aniston and a recalcitrant Woody Harrelson, who refuses to leave his trailer. "I'm not coming out until Burma is free," he shouts.
Others are serious, such as one directed by Anjelica Huston in which comedian Eddie Izzard praises the young people of Myanmar who led protests against the regime last year. "We must use our freedom to help them get theirs," he says.
Huston said in an interview that she took part in the project to highlight the injustices of the regime. "I am particularly drawn to the idea of this small, extraordinarily beautiful country that has been suppressed in this terrible way for so long and the fact that the leader of the democratic party has been shut up under house arrest for 12 of the last 18 years," Huston said.
The campaign has attracted such celebrities as director Judd Apatow, Argentine soccer great Diego Maradona, actor Joseph Fiennes, singer Sheryl Crow, action star Steven Seagal, actress Felicity Huffman and producer Norman Lear.
One 90-second video features Iranian artist Davood, who is shown in time-elapsed photography painting a portrait of Suu Kyi. Only at the end does it become clear that she is wearing handcuffs.
In another, "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" star Eric Szmanda and alumna Jorja Fox play a card game called "Forced Labor," in which he holds the cards of a Burmese soldier and she is dealt the hand of a civilian, who suffers rape, torture and murder.
"I don't think I like this game," Fox says.
"No one does," Szmanda replies.
Szmanda, who visited refugees along the Thai border and briefly crossed into Myanmar last year, said he was stunned by the heart-wrenching accounts of civilians who escaped the regime.
"Something came over me while I was there. I didn't feel a sense of pity, I felt a sense of urgency," he said. "I had a chance to meet a lot of former political prisoners who are now living on the border of Thailand. It's unbelievable what some of them had to do endure for nine or 10 years."
Actress Rosanna Arquette, who appears in a spot condemning the destruction of 3,200 villages by the regime, said she was moved to participate in the project because of the plight of Suu Kyi.
"She has done so much and she is still a prisoner," Arquette said in an interview. "And the world doesn't really know. There are no Americans there to help. It's really like a creepy secret."
Jack Healey, the former head of Amnesty International who helped raise that group's profile through celebrity concerts, had a key role in organizing the Burma project. He said one of his goals is to give Suu Kyi the kind of profile that Nelson Mandela had while he was imprisoned in South Africa.
"We want her to be the Mandela of her time," he said. "Maybe by the end we will all know who she is."
Fanista, a new "social commerce" shopping website, underwrote and produced many of the spots and offers customers a 10% rebate that they can donate to the U.S. Campaign for Burma.
In his spot, Stallone talks about his fourth "Rambo" movie, which was released earlier this year and casts the Myanmar dictatorship as the villain. The film depicts "atrocity de-mining," in which civilians are forced to walk ahead of the army at gunpoint to uncover hidden land mines. The regime banned the movie.
"While it is flattering to be part of a movie that is giving the Burmese people hope and it is cool to say 'I'm banned in Burma,' these people need real hope," Stallone says in the 80-second spot. "Let's do something we can be proud about."
article from Los Angeles Times
Burma: It Can't Wait - Day 23: Maradonna
Burma: It Can't Wait - Day 22: Felicity Huffman
Burma: It Can't Wait - Day 21: Sylvester Stallone
Burma: It Can't Wait - Day 20: Ellen Page
Burma: It Can't Wait - Day 19: Steven Seagal
Paranoid Burmese junta steps up security around Suu Kyi
Friday, 16 May 2008
"It used to be you could ask any taxi driver and they would show you her house.
There could be no stopping and no taking photographs, but they would drive you along Rangoon's University Avenue and you could glimpse the property where Aung San Suu Kyi has spent almost 13 years under house arrest.
Now you cannot even do that. The day after Cyclone Nargis struck, the military authorities ordered that the security around her house be increased. So long a prisoner in her own home, she is now even more isolated from the Burmese people.
Given the devastation wrought by Nargis, one might have assumed the authorities had more pressing priorities. But their decision to block off the house of the leader of Burma's political opposition reveals the junta's concern over the power the 62-year-old woman holds.
After hundreds of monks gathered outside her house during September's pro-democracy demonstrations, the junta is apparently keen to ensure she does not again become a rallying point for people angry and frustrated by the regime's ineffective response to the damage caused by the storm.
Suu Kyi lives with two maids. Her meals are brought in every day – checked by guards outside her house. Foreign diplomats were once permitted to call but that was stopped; her doctor is her only regular visitor. But even those visits, every three weeks, have been halted.
"Whenever they are worried about her influencing the current situation they stop her doctor's visits," said a Western diplomat based in Rangoon. "After last September, her doctor was not allowed to visit until December."
Her unique position is partly the result of an absence of alternative political leaders. Almost all of the organisers of several demonstrations held in Rangoon last summer before the larger protests in September have been jailed. Of the remainder, some have left the country while others are in hiding. Suu Kyi remains the only visible opposition figure.
"Burma's half-million-strong army is terrified of her. She has the love and support of the people. She unites Burma's different political and ethnic groups. This makes her their greatest threat – she unites the people against the regime," said Mark Farmaner, of the Burma Campaign UK.
"The generals are trying to keep her completely isolated from her people and from the world. Her phone line is cut, they intercept all her post. No visitors are allowed. Her sons are not even allowed into the country and she has grandchildren that she has never seen."
Suu Kyi was last detained in May 2003. In the Alice-in-Wonderland world of the Burmese regime, the generals annually renew her imprisonment with a detention order delivered to her house.
"There may be a lot of younger people who do not agree with everything she says," said another Westerner who lives in Rangoon. "But if she was released everybody would rally around her. The regime is paranoid of the West and they are paranoid of her."
The opposition leader reportedly fills her time reading and meditating. It is unclear whether she still has a radio. She used to play the piano in her house but complained many years ago that it had fallen into disrepair."
from: The Independent
Burma: It Can't Wait - Day 16: Mana
Burma: It Can't Wait - Day 15 - Rosanna Arquette
Burma: It Can't Wait - Day 14: Thich Naht Hanh
Burma: It Can't Wait - Day 13 - Judd Apatow
Burma: It Can't Wait - Day 12: Graffiti Wall
Burma: It Can't Wait - Day 11: Jackson Browne
Update on Burma / Cyclone Nargis / Burma:It Can't Wait Campaign:
The UN insists on delivering any aid to Unicef/World Food Programs and NOT directly to the government. They are suspicious that the government is taking all supplies for themselves and not distributing. It is also unprecedented to hand supplies directly to military.
Italians dropped food and left.
many organizations have wired money into Burmese groups inside the country providing relief services.
The Regime has not helped with the cyclone, but has continued preparations for the Elections on May 10th. The people of Burma are looking for food and water...Don't know where voting for military referendum rates on their priorities.
The military has continued their attacks on Eastern Burma in the past week.
China's view on foreign aide in the past has been that to accept aide makes them weak. The Burmese military is following suit.
The US campaign for Burma is pressing the UN (and asking for public support for the following):
1. It has been ONE WEEK since Cyclone Nargis hit. Supplies MUST be allowed in. the military regime needs to accept foreign aid. The UN has tried to enforce that aid be allowed in, but China and Russia blocked this request.
2. may 27...the day they may release Aung San Suu Kyi. It is more important now than ever to support her release.
3. supporting UN Weapon Arms Embargo. More money should be going to humanitarian aide. Not to weapons.
Where the Burma:It Can't Wait campaign comes in:
- The cyclone is opening a window into the military regime's weaknesses. The Spots show the specific human rights abuses occuring and show us WHY 100,000 people have died and are still dying.
- We have 42,092 supporters, and counting...
Burma: It Can't Wait - Day 10: Davood
Burma: It Can't Wait - Day 9: Wally Langham
100,000 Dead: Regime Still Blocks Aid, China Complicit
The news is staggering and in many ways unfathomable. Yesterday, Shari Villarosa, the leading US diplomat in Burma said that 100,000 may have died and 95% of the buildings in the affected areas could be wiped out. The death tolls could increase as water born diseases such as cholera are beginning to spread, and in these worst hit areas aid has not to arrive.
The Burmese regime's blocking of aid is beyond horrendous. Minimal aid is being allowed in. There are still many people and supplies waiting to go, but the Burmese regime continues to deny access. Yesterday, the French government launched a push in the UN to try and enforce aid delivery, but China blocked the effort. If you haven't already, email UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and urge him to step in. Yesterday, within hours after thousands of our members writing in, Ban Ki-moon did start speaking out about Burma. However, more must happen.
In situations as grave as this, many people cannot sit by and watch.
Here's what you can do
Hold a fundraiser. Many of you are already working on this, and we greatly appreciate it. While the Burmese regime isn't allowing international aid in, you can fundraise. We will then send the money directly to trusted Burmese organizations inside who are working to help the people. You can send checks to us or make online donations.
Get your community involved. Here are some events that are going on around the country. Check out the page on the US Campaign for Burma website about the cyclone, for updated news, other info about the situation, and word about upcoming events. On that page at the bottom you can easily add a comment about what you are doing.
Please let us know what you are planning so we can post it on our site. This is a very difficult time, but we can work together to try and save lives.
New York City
Friday, May 9th
UN Demonstration for Cyclone Victims
Time: 3:00-5:00 pm
Location: Ralph Bunche Park, United Nations. 434d and 1st Ave
Candle Light Vigil
Location: Union Square
Friday, May 9th
(4-6pm Protest & Rally; 6-7pm Speakers; 7-8pm Prayers & Vigil)
San Francisco Federal Building/Speaker Nancy Pelosi's Office
450 Golden Gate Avenue (@Larkin), San Francisco, CA
Sunday, May 11th
Protest in front of SPDC attache (2300 California Ave)
Prayer Vigil at Burmese Buddhist Temple at 10:00 am
Saturday, May 10th
5 N Beacon St
Allston, MA 02134
Saturday May 10th
Prayer Service and fundraiser
1627 Pacific Ave (between Akard and Bryan), Dallas
Burma: It Can't Wait - Day 8: Voices
Burma: It Can't Wait - Day 7: Eric Szmanda / Jorja Fox
Cyclone Update and Why Burma Needs a Million Supporters
Sadly, news reports are indicating that the military regime is hampering relief efforts. The headline of USA Today reads "Cyclone Aid Hurt by Junta in Burma." It appears the regime is delaying travel visas for aid workers and letting aid supplies sit unused at airports. Considering this is the same military regime that continues to carry out a scorched-earth war on civilians in eastern Burma that has destroyed 3,200 ethnic minority villages -- and refuses real access to aid agencies that could help -- we are not suprised. It now appears that the death tolls have reached over 22,000 -- and perhaps up to 63,000.
We have spoken with some people inside Burma and they are very angry at the military regime. Everyday Burmese are furious that the military regime turned out tens of thousands of troops to attack peaceful Buddhist monks and demonstrators in September-October 2007, but failed to adequately warn its own people of the oncoming cyclone -- a real humanitarian disaster.
The regime's lack of response to the cyclone begs the question: how has the military regime gotten away with destroying Burma for so long? If you look at our website or at burmaitcantwait.org, you will see that we, the Human Rights Action Center, and Fanista.com have organized a 30-day video campaign to educate Americans and others around the world about the military regime in Burma. The goal of this campaign is to mobilize 1 million people to sign up to take action, so that the regime can no longer crush the Burmese people behind closed doors. Just as the world came together to help free Nelson Mandela and South Africa in the 1980s, we are now organizing an effort to help Burma's imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize recipient Aung San Suu Kyi and the people of Burma.
Today, you will see a video by comedian and actor Eddie Izzard, directed by Oscar-winning actress Anjelica Huston. The powerful, moving video explains that the young people in Burma have led the effort to end military rule in Burma. Yesterday, we posted a video by Julie Benz, which explained the military regime's attacks on civilians in eastern Burma. You can also see four previous videos at www.burmaitcantwait.org There will be one every day for 30 days, and today is the 6th day.
We urge you to share these videos with as many people as possible, to help people understand how and why this started in the first place. Then, urge them to sign up for the campaign of one million. Burma needs you."
Burma: It Can't Wait - Day 6: Eddie Izzard
Appeal for Donations to Help Victims of Burma Cyclone
As you know from our previous message, a massive cyclone hit Burma on Friday night, leaving many people homeless, hungry, and without water. Thousands were killed and many more are now in grave danger.
Many of our members and supporters have asked us to begin a fund to help the victims of the cyclone in Burma. The military regime gave very little warning to the people of Burma and we expect the regime will also do very little to help respond to the humanitarian disaster.
We are already requesting that the US government step in with a major relief package that will reach directly to the people of Burma (and not fall into the pockets of the military regime).
At the same time, if you would like to make a private donation to help the victims of the cyclone, you can now do so by clicking here. The funds will be delivered directly to those in need. The Burmese people are going to be picking up the pieces of their country for quite some time, and your donation can help.
Be sure to indicate on our donation page that your donation is intended for the victims of the cyclone (there is a clear and obvious "check box" you can select before you hit "send").
Many thanks for your generosity and for standing by the people of Burma during this very difficult time.
Massive Cyclone Hits Burma -- US Campaign for Burma Calls for U.S. To Help Burmese People Since Military Regime Will Not
On Friday night, a massive cyclone (hurricane) hit Burma. It is estimated that between 4,000 and 10,000 people have been killed. Hundreds of thousands are without water and food prices have skyrocketed. We believe that hundreds of thousands are without shelter and many more homes lost their roofs. Tens of thousands of people are missing.
Worst, the military regime did practically nothing to warn the Burmese people of the cyclone, and 48 hours after the "hit" the regime has still not asked for any international aid. The Burmese people are in deep trouble and very, very angry. This behavior is fully consistent with the military regime's denial of access for aid agencies to help victims of the military regime's war on civilians in eastern Burma.
We are using all of our tools and contacts to organize an urgent call for the U.S. government -- which has very generously donated to help the millions of refugees that have fled Burma's military regime over the past 10 years -- to step forward and provide major, emergency assistance. It is critical that this assistance goes to the victims of the cyclone and not the notoriously corrupt military regime, which will siphon off funds and support for itself.
Please see our press release from today, below this message. We will let you know about the U.S. response.
In the meantime, we are setting up a mechanism so that you can help if you want to make direct donations to the victims of the cyclone. Stay tuned for more on that.
Aung Din, Jeremy Woodrum, Jennifer Quigley, and Thelma Young
Press Release: May 5th
U.S. Campaign for Burma Press Release
Activists Call for US Government to Provide Emergency Assistance to Cyclone
Victims in Burma
Contact: Jeremy Woodrum (202) 246-7924
(Washington, DC) The United States Campaign for Burma today called for the U.S government to respond to a major humanitarian crisis in Burma made by tropical cyclone Nargis, by providing humanitarian assistance to the people of Burma. The military regime has placed disastrous restrictions on humanitarian organizations operating inside Burma, forcing some to stop their operations. During this humanitarian crisis the regime must allow relief organizations to reach the most vulnerable populations. Delivery of assistance must be immediate and unfettered by the authorities.
The Burmese military regime did almost nothing to warn the people of Burma. Instead, the regime's newspapers have been chock-full of propaganda about why the people of Burma should vote "yes" on a referendum that is an attempt to entrench military rule for many years to come.
The junta's security forces and militias, who have been quick to attack and arrest democracy activists, are playing no role in helping the victims of the cyclone. According to Aung Zaw, editor of the respected Irrawaddy magazine based in Thailand, said "People are very angry with the slow response coming from the military government."
In contrast, everyday villagers and citizens are beginning to clear the debris by hand. Buddhist monks, who led nationwide, peaceful protests aimed at ending military rule in Burma last autumn, are now on the streets, cleaning debris together with the people and helping the victims.
Cyclone Nargis devastated major parts of Burma, including major damages in the country's largest city of Rangoon and throughout the Irrawaddy Delta region, Bago (Pegu) Division, Karen State and Mon State. Wind speeds of 120 mile per hour (190 Km/hr) and rain lashed the region from the night of May 2nd to the morning of May 3rd. During over seven hours of turmoil, up to half of the houses in Rangoon were destroyed and many others lost their roofs. Satellite Townships (similar to suburbs) in Rangoon, such as Hlaing
Tharyar, Shwe Pyi Thar, Dagon Myothit North, and Dagon Myothit South were hit hardest. In Irrawaddy Division, two Townships -- Kyaik Lat and Latputda -- were almost completely destroyed. On Heingyi Island, there are nearly 100,000 people without homes or shelter. In Pyinsi Village in Pyar Pone Township, out of 3,000 villagers, at least two thousand are missing. The Burmese military junta claims that 4,000 were dead, but the actual number of deaths is believed to be much higher.
It is estimated that it will take several weeks to restore electricity and telephone communication in Rangoon. The entire city is paralyzed and hundreds of thousands of people are panicking. It is widely expected that the Burmese military regime will make only symbolic efforts to help those affected. Residents of areas hardest hit by the storm have yet to receive assistance and their basic survival needs are in peril.
"We call on the US Government to provide emergency assistance to the Burmese people immediately through humanitarian agencies," said Aung Din, Executive Director of the U.S. Campaign for Burma. "Cyclone Nargis directly hit Burma; its tsunami-like effect requires the United States and the international community to respond immediately or many more people will die."
"It is critical that any aid provided not be delivered through the notoriously corrupt government. The military and the organizations run by
the wives of the Generals will only siphon off money and keep supplies for themselves. Money and humanitarian assistance should only be provided to trusted, international humanitarian organizations who can reach the victims of the cyclone directly," added Aung Din.
Burma: It Can't Wait - Day 5: Julie Benz
Burma: It Can't Wait. Day 4 - Sarah Silverman
Burma: It Can't Wait. Day 3 - Jason Biggs and Jenny Mollen
Burma: It Can't Wait. Day 2 - Jennifer Aniston
Will Ferrell Video Kicks Off 30 Day Effort for US Campaign for Burma
Dear US Campaign for Burma Supporters,
We are thrilled to announce that today, a video by actor Will Ferrell is kicking off a 30-day campaign to help the US Campaign for Burma build one million voices of support for human rights and democracy in Burma.
Every day for 30 days you will be able to tune into our website www.uscampaignforburma.org or www.burmaitcantwait.org (or YouTube, Myspace, and many more sites) to watch a new celebrity video about Burma. Instead of watching one single video with limited information, viewers will be able to learn a great deal about the people of Burma's courageous struggle for human rights and democracy. Each video is different -- some are deadly serious while others have a light touch. Most of these are meant to be different than a typical public service announcement -- more like a short movie or skit.
The videos include many of the top actors in Hollywood and others in music, such as Jennifer Aniston, Woody Harrelson, Sylvester Stallone, Julie Benz, Eric Szmanda, Anjelica Huston, Ellen Page, Sheryl Crow, and more. Make sure you come back each day to find out who are all the celebrities helping us.
Since you already know about Burma, can you tell as many people as possible to watch the videos and join our effort? They are a fantastic tool to educate people and spur them to take action.
Every single video closes by encouraging viewers to join the US Campaign for Burma's one-million person effort for Burma.
Why do we want one million people to sign up? Here is why: we are facing a military regime that has locked up the world's only imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize recipient Aung San Suu Kyi, brutally cracked down against hundreds of thousands of peaceful monks and civilians, recruited more child soldiers than any other country in the world, and destroyed 3,200 ethnic villages -- bordering on genocide. Yet, too few people have taken action to stop these abuses, and not enough have basic knowledge about Burma.
We have seen in history what happens when not enough people take action. Nelson Mandela was locked up in near-obscurity for nearly two decades before millions of people rallied to the cause of freedom for South Africa. We shouldn't wait that long to build a strong effort for Burma. Aung San Suu Kyi has called on us to help, saying "Please, use your liberty to promote ours." Just as millions of people -- including celebrities -- came together to help free Nelson Mandela and South Africa in the 1980s -- we are asking for your help now.
Tell your friends about these videos, watch them on one of dozens of sites on the internet, including our website www.uscampaignforburma.org or at www.burmaitcantwait.org. Then, encourage them to sign up to be one of the million. After they sign up, they will receive timely alerts from us asking them to email people in the US Congress or United Nations, host film screenings, and consider organizing events for human rights in Burma. Working together, we can be a powerful force for change.
As Martin Luther King Jr. said, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." Supporting human rights does matter, and together we will do our part to help Aung San Suu Kyi and the people of Burma. It can't wait.