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Nov-13-2010 16:03printcomments

May Aung San Suu Kyi's Light Shine on Tel Aviv and onto Berlin

Aung San Suu Kyi
Aung San Suu Kyi photo courtesy: daithaic.blogspot.com

(CLERMONT, Fla.) - Hours before her anticipated release scores of supporters gathered near the home of Nobel Peace Prize laureate pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, hoping to see her in her first few minutes of freedom after seven years of house detention under Myanmar's ruling generals.

Aung San Suu Kyi swept to victory in the 1990 election by a landslide on top of the National League for Democracy party, but the military refused to hand over power and clamped down on opponents.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s light was kept under house arrest or in jail for more than 15 of the last 21 years,. Suu Kyi has also become an icon for the struggle to rid the Southeast Asian country of decades of military rule.

Suu Kyi's freedom has always been a key demand of the Western nations and immediately upon her release she was welcomed by world leaders and human rights organizations.

Groups such as Amnesty international had called her a prisoner of conscience and they also shine the light on poor human rights records of both regimes and states.

Mordechai Vanunu is the icon for a Nuclear Free Middle East and was also named a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty. On 18 June 2010, Malcolm Smart, Director of Amnesty International's Middle East Programme announced:


"Mordechai Vanunu should not be in prison at all, let alone be held in solitary confinement in a unit intended for violent criminals. He suffered immensely when he was held in solitary confinement for 11 years after his imprisonment in 1986 and to return him to such conditions now is nothing less than cruel, inhuman or degrading. Mordechai Vanunu is a prisoner of conscience. The prison authorities might claim that he has been put in isolation to protect him from the risk of attack by other inmates, but if the Israeli government is really concerned for his safety it should release him without delay. His re-imprisonment is both harsh and unjustified. The restrictions on Mordechai Vanunu arbitrarily limit his rights to freedom of movement, expression and association and are therefore in breach of international law. They should be lifted and he should be allowed to start his life again as a free man."


Vanunu at The American Colony, June 14, 2009.
copyright Eileen Fleming

But instead, Vanunu endured another 78 more days in solitary in 2010, his punishment for speaking with foreign media in 2004- who have all been MIA ever since.

On 2 October 2010, the International League for Human Rights announced that Vanunu will be awarded the Carl-von-O­ssietzky-M­edal in Berlin on 12.12.10. The International League for Human Rights also wanted “to draw international attention to the fact that [Vanunu] is still being held prisoner in Israel, deprived of elementary civil and human rights, although he has already served his prison sentence in full, and regardless of the fact that his information is now a quarter of a century old.”

On 11 Oct. 2010, Israel denied Vanunu's appeal to leave the state.

Long time Vanunu supporter, Nobel laureate Mairead Maguire will speak in Berlin on 12.12.10 in the spirit of Carl-von-O­ssietzky and for Vanunu. From Jerusalem in 2008, Mairead said:

“Our security as the human family does not lie in militarism, nuclear weapons or war. Another courageous voice who reminded us of this is Mordechai Vanunu. Mordechai told the world Israel had nuclear weapons. He was concerned that possessing such weapons endangered Israel, as it too could become another Hiroshima. For his act of truth telling he was punished by the Israel Government and continues 22 years later to be held in East Jerusalem unable to leave Israel or speak to foreigners or foreign press.

“For those of us who work to see a Nuclear Free Middle east, a nuclear free world, we remain indebted to Mordechai for his sacrifice on all our behalf, and we hope that Israel will uphold it International obligations to human rights and let Vanunu go free, and give leadership in the Middle East by abolishing its Nuclear weapons.

“What a great contribution we can all make to the world in helping bring peace, if we only take the message of love and non-killing seriously and live by it.  Then we could with our brothers and sisters of all faiths and none, build a no killing, Non-violent Middle East and world together.” [1]

On 14 September 2010, Vanunu responded to the International League for Human Rights:

I am honored to get your announcement about the FIDH – award.

I will accept the award only in one condition, that I myself will be present to receive it. If it is not possible to guarantee that this condition is met then I would prefer that you do not give the award to me now, and keep the option to give it to me in time when I am free. Thank you, Vanunu Mordechai JC.  FREEDOM AND ONLY FREEDOM I NEED NOW.

When Vanunu forwarded me the above he explained, “This is my decision. If I am worthy to this award, then they wait 24 years to decide now, I can wait to be free to get it. To get it in Israel prison is to cooperate with this barbaric prison. And to play like Israel is a free democratic state, that I can get the award like I am free man while in fact I am in 24 years prison. Also remember with all the awards and public awareness, no one care or did any thing to prevent the prison sentence.”

Many have indeed cared and worked for decades in respect for human rights and sharing the dream of a nuclear free world. Over the last 5 ½ years of chronicling Mordechai Vanunu’s on going saga, I met a few of them in California three weeks after first meeting Vanunu in Jerusalem in June 2005.

Many volunteers with the “US Campaign to free Vanunu” had worked for years for Vanunu’s release from prison and among the very first words Vanunu spoke upon his release from 18 years in jail was to call them heroes for standing by him.

Vanunu had disbanded the campaign about the same time I first met him, but I knew nothing about it until I returned to America. Before I departed, I asked Vanunu to connect me to his supporters in America who would be able to do something with what became our first of three video interviews. He told me to “goggle” Vanunu, but he meant Google, and that was the first-but not the last- time that I wondered if Ricky Ricardo had been born in Morocco, might he have sounded like Vanunu Mordechai.

I thought it odd to have to do a search for his friends, but via an Internet search I was led to meet a few of Vanunu’s heroes while I was in Berkeley at Tikkun’s [Hebrew for mend, heal, transform the world] first spiritual activists conference which was three weeks after my first of seven trips to Israel [the state] Palestine [the land].

I met about half a dozen supporters of the just disbanded US Campaign to Free Vanunu, but not one was interested in my DVD copy of Vanunu’s message to George W. Bush as to where in the Middle East he actually could find WMD’s, nor did anyone care to hear how Vanunu’s Christianity helped get him through 18 years in prison, most all in solitary confinement.


Click here for Vanunu's message to USA Christians filmed on 6/23/05
(Windows Media, 5:49, 58mb)

Click here to view Vanunu's Video Message on YouTube


While in Berkeley, I learned that over nearly two decades hundreds of supporters had petitioned governments, raised funds and kept Vanunu’s name in the press. During his incarceration, Vanunu received thousands of cards, letters and gifts from strangers who admired his solitary action and grieved his ongoing suffering.

Stranger than fiction Order Now

But, after a year of walking the streets of east Jerusalem and talking with hundreds of supporters, friends, strangers and media, Vanunu was dealt another crushing disappointment on 21 April 2005, with the announcement of another set of restrictions denying him the right to leave Israel and a few weeks later, Vanunu disbanded his US Campaign.

In 2006, I asked Vanunu why and he replied that as he was free enough to speak for himself-even if he was not allowed the right to leave Israel-he saw no need for any organization, but had hoped his supporters would act independently. That is what this writer who became a supporter, who became a reporter always did in the spirit of muckrakers like Izzy Stone, who wrote:

“If God, as some now say, is dead, He no doubt died of trying to find an equitable solution to the Arab-Jewish problem.”

"All governments are run by liars and nothing they say should be believed."

"The only kinds of fights worth fighting are those you are going to lose, because somebody has to fight them and lose and lose and lose until someday, somebody who believes as you do wins. In order for somebody to win an important, major fight 100 years hence, a lot of other people have got to be willing - for the sheer fun and joy of it - to go right ahead and fight, knowing you're going to lose. You mustn't feel like a martyr. You've got to enjoy it."

You also must believe that one day Justice will be realized.

On 23 September 2008, the Jerusalem District Court announced: "In light of (Vanunu's) ailing health and the absence of claims that his actions put the country's security in jeopardy, we believe his sentence should be reduced."

Vanunu's served 78 days in solitary confinement and was released on 8 August 2010. A few weeks later he moved from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, “to be closer to the airport” and full freedom.

On 11 October 2010, Israel’s Supreme Court denied Vanunu’s appeal seeking to leave the state.

Israel’s statehood was contingent upon upholding the UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS. Article 13.2 affirms “Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own…”

It has been said that the Governments that signed onto the UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS, never imagined that people would persevere to hold them accountable to it.

Read more here: UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS - wearewideawake.org

Eileen Fleming is the Producer of "30 Minutes with Vanunu" and "13 Minutes with Vanunu" Founder of WeAreWideAwake.org, Eileen is a Feature Correspondent for Arabisto.com, Author of "Keep Hope Alive" and "Memoirs of a Nice Irish American 'Girl's' Life in Occupied Territory" and the soon to be released "BEYOND NUCLEAR: Some of my Experiences of Mordechai Vanunu and the Holy Land: 2005-2010" youtube.com/user/eileenfleming. Eileen is a unique leader in her state and she intends to run for a Florida Congressional seat in the future, to help speed the process of change that is so demanded today. Like many who walk in similar steps, Eileen, like other writers at Salem-News.com, is an outspoken advocate for humanity and she has no tolerance for the oppressive forces of the world.

You can send Eileen Fleming an email at this address: ecumei@gmail.com

Comments Leave a comment on this story.

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Farhanaz April 8, 2013 12:17 am (Pacific time)

Congratulations! I am very happy for you. I read this piece and became a huge fan of your witring. With regards to your question, I think using one's voice to add volume to the voices muted by societies all across the world is vital. If you look at our global history, the implementation of human rights has always been by the select few who stand up for others. All the great leaders throughout history have used their voice to amplify and shed light on the prevailing injustices. You use your voice through your witring. And I must tell you that it does touch people and make a difference in their lives. You inspire me!Looking forward to reading more of your articles and blog posts.

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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.