'Rambo' star joins activists to decry Burma junta

|PIC1|A week after "Rambo" made a nearly No 1 box office debut, movie star Sylvester Stallone says he wants to go to Burma to address human rights violations.

The 61-year-old actor, who stars in, directed and co-wrote the movie, said he hopes the film provokes confrontation and said he is willing to travel to Burma to confront ruling military officials.

Although the latest instalment of the Rambo series received lukewarm reviews, the film is being praised by opponents of Burma's ruling military junta.

"This movie could fuel the sentiment of Myanmar people to invite American troops to help save them from the junta," one resident of Rangoon said, according to TVNZ of New Zealand. Rangoon is the largest city in Burma.

In "Rambo 4", Vietnam War veteran John Rambo spends his retirement in northern Thailand where he's running a longboat. On the nearby Thai-Burma border, the Burmese-Karen conflict rages into its 60th year. A pastor enlists his help when Christian missionaries are kidnapped by Burmese soldiers in Karen state.

Police in Burma have banned the film and have given strict orders to shops not to sell pirated copies of the movie.

The film has already proved to be a rallying point for many to decry the ruling junta.

"Everything is almost - 80 per cent - the same as what the movie showed," said 28-year-old Cinthy, a student who grew up in Karen State, where the mainly Christian people have been fighting for independence for 59 years, according to Reuters.

"They rape the Karen people. They kill the Karen people. They just try to kill the village," she said, recalling one military incursion into her village when she was five years old.

"Twenty years later, it's the same."

Today, Karen civilians are appealing to the world for assistance, warning that if the Burma Army is not stopped, they will soon cease to exist.

Much of the population of northern Karen State is displaced with over 24,000 civilians hiding close to their old villages and at least 6,000 having fled to the Thai-Burma border, according to Free Burma Rangers, a humanitarian aid organisation working in the conflict zones of eastern Burma.

"The Karen people are struggling for their very survival," said Tina Lambert, Christian Solidarity Worldwide's advocacy director. "For too long their cries have fallen on deaf ears around the world. It is time for that to change. The world must act to bring an end to the dictators' reign of terror in Burma - before it is too late."

With the release of "Rambo", anti-junta activists are using the film's lines such as "Live for nothing, die for something" as rallying points with hopes that the world will hear their cries and that it may spur a change of regime.

"The war is still a reality," said Edward, a leader of the Overseas Burmese Patriots group which coordinated a screening of the movie in Singapore on Sunday, according to Reuters. "Rambo can let the world know the military government is totally cruel."

Stallone has called such responses by activists one of the "proudest moments" of his film career.

"These incredibly brave people have found, kind of a voice, in a very odd way, in American cinema ... They've actually used some of the film's quotes as rallying points," Stallone told Reuters.

Stallone said rather than Iraq or Darfur, he chose to put the spotlight on the lesser-known crisis in Burma.

Burma recently grabbed media attention when the ruling junta cracked down on Buddhist monks and tens of thousands of protestors who led peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations in September. The crackdown led to hundreds of deaths and thousands of arrests, some dissident groups estimate.

"People finally got the idea of how brutal these people are," said Stallone, whose conversion to the Christian faith during the filming of Rocky Balboa reportedly impacted the storyline to the latest Rambo entry.

Stallone said he will be making a fifth and final instalment of "Rambo."