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United for Peace
Provided by The Nobel Women's Initiative

The Nobel Women's Initiative was established in 2006 by sister Nobel Peace Prize laureates Shirin Ebadi, Wangari Maathai, Rigoberta Menchú Tum, Betty Williams, and Jody Williams. These women—representing North and South America, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa-bring together their extraordinary experiences in a united effort for peace with justice and equality. Their goal is to meaningfully contribute to building peace by working together with women around the world. Please visit them online to learn more about their work: www.nobelwomensinitiative.org.

Nobel Laureates Call for Release of Aung San Suu Kyi
This column is provided by The Nobel Women's Initiative

We six women Nobel Peace Laureates—Jody Williams, Mairead Maguire, Shirin Ebadi, Wangari Maathai, Betty Williams and Rigoberta Menchu Tum—call for the immediate release of Burma’s democratically elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi from prison. We are shocked and appalled by the Burmese junta’s imprisonment of our sister Nobel Peace Laureate. Already detained under house arrest against Burma’s own laws, her transfer to Burma’s notorious Insein prison is a stark illustration of the brutality and lawlessness of the regime, which now holds more than 2000 democracy activists in prison.

Aung San Suu Kyi is ill and in need of medical treatment. Her doctor, who tried to tend to her last week, was detained on Thursday, May 7, and unable to visit her. Aung San Suu Kyi’s imprisonment in a prison notorious for its mistreatment of prisoners poses a significant threat to her health. We are deeply concerned for our colleague.

The people of Burma have suffered unimaginable injustices and human rights abuses over five decades of dictatorship. As a strong voice for freedom and nonviolence, Aung San Suu Kyi represents the best hope for a peaceful and democratic future for Burma. Along with the other political prisoners and activists within Burma, she must be free to do her work.

Nearly two years ago, in September 2007, a significant nonviolent movement of monks, nuns and democracy activists demonstrated against the military regime in what is now called the Saffron Revolution. The demonstrations continued for 11 days before the military started killing and arresting demonstrators, opening fire on large crowds. In response, some countries introduced new sanctions, the Association of South East Nations (ASEAN) issued a statement—and the UN Security Council did nothing.

The people of Burma were left alone in their nonviolent struggle against a brutal regime.

Less than a year later, the regime in Burma capitalized on a devastating cyclone to arrest still more activists and ratify a new constitution through a fraudulent referendum, held mere days after the storm. Now Aung San Suu Kyi has been put in prison. What will take for the international community to respond?

We urge the international community to exert immediate pressure on Burma to release Aung San Suu Kyi and, specifically, for the Security Council of the United Nations to issue a resolution denouncing the imprisonment. Equally important, an effective global arms embargo—and an end to the arms sales to Burma from China and Russia in particular—is more urgent then ever. Burma’s chief economic partners cannot, in good conscience, stand by while Burma’s rulers violently repress the democratic aspirations of their people and lock up those who seek nonviolent change. We strongly urge Burma’s allies in the ASEAN, and in China, to denounce Burma’s actions.


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The Nobel Women's Initiative was established in 2006 by sister Nobel Peace Laureates Jody Williams, Shirin Ebadi, Wangari Maathai, Rigoberta Menchú Tum, Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan Maguire. We six women -- representing North and South America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa -- have decided to bring together our extraordinary experiences in a united effort for peace with justice and equality.

Only 12 women in its more than 100 year history have been recognized with the Nobel Peace Prize. The Nobel Peace Prize is a great honor, but it is also a great responsibility. It is this sense of responsibility that has compelled us to create the Nobel Women’s Initiative to help strengthen work being done in support of women's rights around the world - work often carried out in the shadows with little recognition.

We believe that peace is much more than the absence of armed conflict. Peace is the commitment to equality and justice; a democratic world free of physical, economic, cultural, political, religious, sexual and environmental violence and the constant threat of these forms of violence against women – indeed against all of humanity.

It is the heartfelt mission of the Nobel Women’s Initiative to address and work to prevent the root causes of violence by spotlighting and promoting the efforts of women’s rights activists, researchers and organizations working to advance peace, justice and equality. By sharing a platform with these women, the NWI will spotlight their tireless work to prevent violence against women. By helping to advance the cause of women, we believe we advance all of humanity.

United by our desire to combat all forms of violence against women in all circumstances, we also recognize that specific issues for women vary around the world. One element of our work will be to sponsor international meetings of women every two years -- in a different region of the world -- to highlight issues of concern to women there. The objective of these meetings is to underscore our commonalities and differences by providing inclusive and energizing forums that ensure meaningful dialogue and networking by women’s rights activists around the world -- but with a view to action.

It is our commitment to action that brings us together. Therefore, our meetings will be linked with concrete work in the target region leading up to the conference, along with post-conference plans of action to address the issues addressed at the conference. In this way, the Nobel Women’s Initiative will support meaningful work on the ground.

We believe profoundly in the sharing of information and ideas. By networking and working together
rather than in competition, we enhance the work of all. The Nobel Women’s Initiative is committed to supplementing and enhancing existing work and is determined to avoid duplicating the work of others. We want to open new ground for discussion, debate and change.

We hope you share our excitement about the potential of the Nobel Women’s Initiative to meaningfully contribute to building peace with justice and equality by working together with women around the world.

For more information, visit www.nobelwomensinitiative.org

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