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To Burma with love: REM broadcast tribute from Ardgillan Castle
Michael Stipe paid a special tribute to imprisoned Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi during REM's Irish performance last night
The Hot Press Newsdesk, 20 Jun 2005
Performing in the stunning, sun-drenched setting of Ardgillan Castle, Co. Dublin, REM frontman Michael Stipe asked Irish fans to spare a thought for Aung San Suu Kyi, the pro-democracy Burmese leader who celebrated her 60th birthday under house arrest yesterday.
Midway through their set last night, Stipe produced a large portrait of Aung San Suu Kyi and delivered an impassioned speech directed to the imprisoned leader and the Burmese people suffering under the country's brutal military dictatorship.
“Her dedication, resolve, courage and patience are the mark of a leader," said REM frontman Michael Stipe. "We stand tall for her, as she will again stand tall for herself.”
Although the global campaign to free Aung San Suu Kyi has gathered considerable pace in the lead up to her birthday, REM's tribute will be the first of its kind to be broadcast in Burma itself, circumventing the military's control of media via satellite television transmission.
According to Burma Action Ireland, "while satellite dishes and shortwave radios are illegal in Burma, their use is nevertheless widespread as people seek out alternatives news sources. This will be the first time the Burmese people will be able to watch an international music concert in which musicians speak about Aung San Suu Kyi."
Meanwhile, in another tribute to Aung San Suu Kyi, Damien Rice and Lisa Hannigan's new single 'Unplayed Piano' is now available to buy in shops, with all proceeds being donated to US Campaign for Burma and the Burma Campaign UK.
And in Galway City Council last week, Aung San Suu Kyi was honoured with the Freedom of the City award, which presented to her sister-in-law Lucinda Phillips by City Mayor, Catherine Connolly.
Speaking at the ceremony, Councillor Connelly said of the Burmese leader: "A truly inspirational figure, she has paid a heavy price for her resolute defence of freedom and justice for the people of Burma. Galway’s voice has now been added to many others throughout the world, who believe that this remarkable woman’s courage and determination deserves to be recognised.”
For more information on the local campaign, visit Burma Action Ireland.