Tuesday, July 24, 2007

"Oh, Sir... they put generals in our junta...."

Are Trekkers willing to fight the terrestrial versions of Klingons and Romulans?

THE Star Trek actor Walter Koenig yesterday urged fans of the iconic sci-fi series to turn their wrath on Burma's military junta, an earthly "outpost of tyranny".

Koenig, who battled alien Klingons and Romulans as an original member of the Starship Enterprise crew, said he hoped to mobilise Trekkies to join a campaign against the ruling generals blamed for human rights abuses in Burma, renamed Myanmar by the junta.

"I can tell people what I experienced, meeting people without limbs, the ex-political prisoners, the squalor, all that I have seen in these brief days," Koenig, 70, said after visiting a refugee camp on the Thai-Burma border last week.

Thailand is home to about 140,000 long-term Burmese refugees, the UN refugee agency says, but half a million more have been internally displaced by attacks on villages in eastern Burma, home to one of the world's longest-running civil wars.

The United States has labelled Burma an outpost of tyranny and imposed economic sanctions, but the junta has avoided total isolation by using its vast natural gas reserves to befriend energy- hungry China and India.

Koenig, the son of persecuted Russian Jews who fled to the US at the turn of the century, said the campaign against injustice in Burma would resonate with Star Trek fans.

More power to you, Mr. Chekov. The Burmese people deserve far better than their current lot. And the real-life bravery of Aung San Suu Kyi matches any exploit of the crew of the Enterprise.

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