Fourteen Nobel Laureates released a letter yesterday urging the United Nations Security Council to take action to support fellow Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar. Suu Kyi has been detained for 14 of the last 20 years and was sentenced yesterday to 18 months of house arrest after temporarily housing an American who swam to her lakeside property unannounced. Opponents of the Myanmar junta, which has been in power since 1962, claim that the sentence is an effort to keep Suu Kyi out of the 2010 election cycle, according to the Nobel Women’s Initiative.
The open letter (see PDF) calls on the United Nations Security Council to create a commission investigating crimes against humanity in Myanmar. The Nobel Laureates wrote, “The decades-long struggle to end atrocities and repression and bring about national reconciliation and democracy in Burma (formally known as Myanmar) is at a particularly critical moment. The nonviolent efforts to bring about the change so desperately needed require the full support of the United Nations Security Council.” Letter signatories include President Mikhail Gorbachev, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama, and Nobel Women’s Initiative Laureates Rigoberta Menchu and Shirin Ebadi.
Suu Kyi is the leader of the National League for Democracy party, which was overwhelmingly victorious in the 1990 election. The ruling junta refused to step down from power, leaving 2,000 political opponents in Myanmar prisons, according to the Daily Mail.