NEW YORK – Will Ferrell, Jennifer Aniston and Halifax actress Ellen Page are among those lending their celebrity status to a new campaign focusing attention on Myanmar’s military-run government.
Jim Carrey previously filmed a public service announcement to raise awareness about the Southeast Asian country, also known as Burma, and human-rights leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been confined by the government for 12 of the last 18 years.
But starting Thursday, the message will be on a much larger scale. A video will be released each day in May starring Ferrell, Aniston, Page, Sarah Silverman, Sylvester Stallone, Anjelica Huston, Woody Harrelson and Judd Apatow, among others.
The celebs appear solo or in scenes together on behalf of the Human Rights Action Center and the U.S. Campaign for Burma.
The spots are more like short films than PSAs, and will be blasted across the Internet on sites such as YouTube and MySpace, Jeremy Woodrum, co-founder of the U.S. Campaign for Burma, said this week.
In Ferrell’s bit, he nods to an unseen person when he correctly pronounces the name of Suu Kyi, who’s under long-term house arrest. In rare serious mode, he concludes: “Every now and again, a single person or event captures the imagination and inspiration of the world. This moment belongs to Burma, and to Aung San Suu Kyi. Please honour her courage, honour your compassion and let this month be the month you join an effort to change the world.”
Suu Kyi received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her nonviolent efforts to overturn the regime led by Senior Gen. Than Shwe. Suu Kyi’s political party won the last general election in 1990 but was never allowed to take power. Myanmar has been under military rule since 1962.
The country captured world attention when Buddhist monks last September began leading the biggest anti-government protests in two decades. At least 31 people were killed and thousands more were detained when military rulers cracked down on the peaceful demonstrations.
Organizers of the celebrity video campaign used their showbiz connections to bring in Ferrell and company.
Woodrum said the spots could possibly influence Myanmar’s government leaders who recognize the famous faces: “When stars speak out, it undermines the military’s authority in a different kind of way than when political leaders do, and it gives support and hope to the opposition.”
The campaign kicked off Thursday, the same day President George W. Bush froze the assets of state-owned companies in Myanmar that prop up the nation’s military junta, which has been condemned by the international community for suppressing pro-democracy dissidents.
On the Net:
U.S. Campaign for Burma:
Human Rights Action Center: