'Rambo' Star Received Death Threats from Burma

Correction appended

Rambo star Sylvester Stallone said this week that he received multiple death threats while filming in Thailand for the latest installment in the "Rambo" series.

"I got them (death threats) all the time. It's a very dangerous part of the world," said the 61-year-old Hollywood action star on Tuesday while at the film's U.K. premiere in London, according to London's The Guardian newspaper.

"A lot of people just disappear. They just didn't want this film to be made, it's an insidious civil war that has gone on for 60 years and no one knows about it because they've been keeping it quiet," Stallone said, referring to the Burmese-Karen conflict on the Thai-Burma border, which currently stands as the world's longest running civil war.

The fourth installment to the Rambo series is critical of the ruling military government in Burma – the former name of Myanmar and the preferred name by those opposed to the junta government – for its massive persecution of ethnic minorities. The film's plot follows the main character, John Rambo, as he attempts to rescue a group of Christian aid workers kidnapped by Burmese soldiers in Karen state.

It is well-know that the military junta has wiped out entire villages of ethnic minorities and torn down crosses and churches in Burma, a predominantly Buddhist country. Armed military often attack villages of the Karen, Karenni, and Chin people – who are mostly Christians – and systematically rape the woman.

Tens of thousands of Burmese have fled to refugee camps along the Thai-Burmese border. Norwegian Church Aid believes that as many as half a million people are currently displaced, with the worst affected area being Karen State.

The U.S. State Department has designated Myanmar, the official and preferred name of Burma by the junta, as a "country of particular concern" – the worst religious freedom violation label.

The U.K. human rights group, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), reported Thursday of the shocking death of the general secretary of the Karen National Union (KNU), Padoh Mahn Sha.

Mahn Sha, one of Burma's most prominent ethnic leaders, was assassinated at his home on the Thai-Burmese border Wednesday afternoon. It is believed that the murder was ordered by Burma's military regime, according to CSW.

A delegation from CSW had met with Mahn Sha and other KNU leaders in his home just three days earlier, on Feb. 11.

"I knew Padoh Mahn Sha personally, considered him a friend, and met with him many times," said CSW Advocacy Officer Benedict Rogers, in a statement. "His assassination is shocking, and robs Burma and its ethnic nationalities of a wise, courageous, humble, principled leader who has now paid the ultimate sacrifice for his people and their cause.

"On behalf of CSW, I wish to express our very deepest condolences to his family and friends, and to all Karen people. We join in their mourning, and hold them in our prayers."

"Rambo 4," which has received support from human rights groups including CSW, has been banned in Burma and the police have given strict orders to shops not to sell pirated copies of the movie.

Correction: Saturday, February 16, 2008:

An article on Friday, February 15, 2008, about actor Sylvester Stallone receiving death threats while filming "Rambo" incorrectly reported that the filming was done in Burma. Filming for the latest installment of "Rambo" was done in Thailand.

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