Refugee Camp on the Edge of Forever


Sudan has George Clooney. Tibet has Richard Gere. Myanmar has… Chekov.

Star Trek actor Walter Koenig urged fans of the iconic sci-fi series on Tuesday to turn their wrath on Myanmar'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 the former Burma.

"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, told Reuters after visiting a refugee camp on the Thai-Myanmar border last week.

"Star Trek fans are very receptive to humanitarian causes. The stereotype is somebody who is into computers or sits at home and does nothing else," Koenig said.

I have no idea how you venture to the border without coming back convinced that the U.S. should issue more visas and accept vastly more Burmese refugees. Instead Chekov defers to the sanction-happy U.S. Campaign for Burma, which exists mainly to tell college students to avoid travel to a country they've probably never heard of. (When MTV announces "Spring Break: Rangoon," U.S. Campaign for Burma will stand ready.) Koenig's support should be at least as effective as the campaign's other suggestions for "helping the people of Eastern Burma," which include writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper and hoping Than Shwe reads it.

All I really need to know about Star Trek I learned from Tim Cavanaugh.

Hat Tip: Gunnar Hellekson.