For nearly two decades, Nelson Mandela languished in global obscurity while imprisoned under the apartheid regime in South Africa. Then, during the 1980s, millions around the world mobilized an effort for his release and an end to apartheid. Now Mandela is a global icon for human rights.
Today's Mandela is Aung San Suu Kyi, a woman who has been held under arrest for 12 years in Burma. Suu Kyi, 62, has been a courageous advocate for human rights and democracy, and she is the world's only imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize recipient. She became a target of her country's military junta after spearheading a nationwide effort to end decades of military rule. The current regime is exceedingly brutalincarcerating up to 2,000 political prisoners, recruiting more child soldiers than any other country in the world and carrying out a campaign of rape against ethnic-minority women. It has pursued a scorched-earth policy against minorities, destroying medical clinics, food supplies and homes.
Suu Kyi has appealed to the global community to take up the Burmese cause, saying "Please, use your liberty to promote ours." It took decades for us to come to Mandela's aid. Suu Kyiand the people of Burmaare waiting to be freed now.
Huston, an Oscar-winning actress, is involved with the U.S. Campaign for Burma
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