The Nobel Women’s Initiative condemns the Burmese government for its continued suppression of the democratic rights of its citizens and calls for the immediate release of all protestors arrested for participating in demonstrations against the regime’s exorbitant increase in fuel prices. It is unacceptable that the citizens of Burma be denied the right to free speech and peaceful protest.

“The brave activists facing down the Burmese regime this week is an example of the courage and determination shown everyday by the Burmese people. Our sister Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and so many other women and men have risked their safety to return to the streets day after day, year after year, to demand the most basic rights and freedoms. For 17 years now Suu Kyi has paid the price, imprisoned in her home, while the regime pads its pockets and brutalizes its people. This recent crackdown on political dissidents is just another illustration of the regime’s complete and utter disregard for democracy and human rights. Enough is enough. We have passed the point for ‘urging’ the international community to act on this situation. Failing to do so at this point is an atrocity,” said Jody Williams.

With almost 90 percent of Burma’s citizens living at or below a dollar a day, the recent cuts in government fuel subsidies have created a dire situation for the country’s poor. Fuel prices have catapulted 100 percent and the cost of cooking gas has increased by a reported 500 percent. Desperation has forced Burmese citizens to the streets and resulted in more than 100 arrests of some of Burma’s most prominent activists. The government has violently suppressed protestors’ efforts through overt intimidation, attacks and arrests. The continued display of resistance by Burmese activists is exceptional given the risk they knowingly face when speaking out against the hard-line government.

The Nobel Women’s Initiative acknowledges the remarkable boldness of all Burmese protestors and in particular the work of our sister activists. Women have played an important role in the recent demonstrations- organizing a march on August 22 that grew to more than 300 protestors. Despite peacefully exercising their political rights they have been continually plagued by harassment and abuse.

“We are outraged at the use of gender-based violence and verbal abuse as weapons against women leading the protests. Women in Burma have a long history of active participation in the forefront of resistance movements during times of crisis, and again women are now taking a leading role to show their defiance against the regime’s unlawful acts and injustice.” (Women’s League of Burma)

The Nobel Women’s Initiative again condemns China, Russia, and South Africa for their failure to support the January Security Council Resolution on Burma. We urge these governments to renounce their prior positions and join other members of the Council in taking immediate steps to resolve the current crisis and help bring about national reconciliation and democracy in Burma.

NOTE: The Nobel Wonen’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. Of the seven living laureates, only Aung San Suu Kyi, still imprisoned, is unable to formally join our efforts though we are confident shares our vision.