Koenig Speaks Out For Myanmar RefugeesBy Michelle
July 24, 2007 - 10:21 PM
Walter Koenig (Chekov) has become an outspoken critic of the government of Myanmar, which is governed by a military 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 told Reuters after a visit to a refugee camp in the region. He said he hoped to mobilise Star Trek fans in criticising the tyranny in the country formerly known as Burma.
About 140,000 Burmese refugees live on the border of Thailand and a half million more have been displaced by attacks on villages in Myanmar. Because Myanmar has natural gas reserves, it has trade deals with China and India despite its lengthy civil war.
Koenig is the child of Russian Jews who fled to the United States after being persecuted in their own country. "Star Trek fans are very receptive to humanitarian causes," he said. "There is an extraordinary sense of philanthropy and benevolence among people who watch a show in which there is a company of characters who embrace all ethnicities and all races."
The actor is planning to write a blog about the trip organised by the U.S. Campaign for Burma at his web site.
"We feel the world has not woken up to how severe things are in eastern Burma," said spokesman Jeremy Woodrum, who stated that the Myanmar junta had destroyed more than 3000 villages in eastern Myanmar, "twice that in Darfur."