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Women Laureates Press Ban Ki Moon for Release of Aung San Suu Kyi


Wangari Maathai, Kenyan Laureate, hand-delivered statement to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon on Saturday

On Saturday September 29, Wangari Maathai hand-delivered a statement from six of the seven women Nobel Peace Laureates to Ban Ki Moon, calling for the immediate release of their sister Nobel Laureate – Aung San Suu Kyi, imprisoned in Burma.

The seventh remaining woman laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi herself, has been silenced by years of house arrest and repression by the military junta. “In calling for her release, and the release of all political prisoners in Burma, we women Laureates are doing as Aung San Suu Kyi has asked of people everywhere: using our freedom to promote theirs,” said Betty Williams, 1976 Nobel Laureate for her work for peace in Northern Ireland.

The Laureates’ call comes as a military crack-down against the peaceful protesters in Burma is on the rise, with arrests and attacks of marchers increasing daily. “We are horrified by the rising violence in Burma, and the attacks and arrests of peaceful protesters.” Said Shirin Ebadi, awarded the Nobel Prize in 2003 for her work to defend women’s rights in Iran.

The Laureates condemned the lack of action from the Security Council, and China in particular. They called for an immediate arms embargo against Burma, and urged the UN Security Council to pass a strong resolution requiring an end to the violent response to the protests and national reconciliation.

“China is a major backer of this repressive regime,” said Jody Williams, 1997 Nobel Laureate for her work to ban Landmines. “As host of the 2008 Olympics, China can’t afford to stand behind a regime that brutally suppresses its people. Now is the time to test if ‘One World, One Dream’, the Olympic slogan, applies to the people of Burma.”

Only 12 women in its more than 100 year history have been recognized with the Nobel Peace Prize. Of these, 7 women are still living. In 2006, sister Nobel Peace Laureates Jody Williams, Shirin Ebadi, Wangari Maathai, Rigoberta Menchú Tum, Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan Maguire formed the Nobel Women’s Initiative- a united effort for peace with justice and equality. Aung San Suu Kyi is the only woman laureate who is not free to join the group.

Click here to read the statement
Contact: Erin Simpson 1-613-513-9741 (mobile) email

Liz Bernstein 1-613-262-1969 (mobile)