April 2, 2007
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WASHINGTON D.C. - Fifty religious leaders sent a letter to U2’s Bono today asking him to “do whatever is necessary to see that ‘Mercenaries 2’ is pulled from stores and not sold anywhere.”
Mercenaries 2 is a realistic, violent video game in which the player leads a mercenary force into Venezuela with the objective of killing a “power hungry tyrant” who has taken over the oil industry. Bono’s investment company, Elevation Partners, has invested $300 million in Pandemic Studios, the game’s creator. Mercenaries 2 is scheduled to be released this year.
|Well known Caracas landmarks, including the headquarters of the national oil compnay PDVSA are featured in the video game.
The letter, which was signed by Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, and Muslim leaders denounced the violent and realistic nature of the game and told Bono, “We feel your connection with this game detracts from your image as a human rights defender.”
Gunnar Gundersen, a spokesperson for the Venezuela Solidarity Network (VSN), a US-based grassroots organization that is pressuring Bono to stop the game said, “Anyone who has spent time in Caracas can immediately recognize the city’s streets and landmarks in the game. The aim of the video game is full devastation, so any person who moves should be shot, and all the buildings, such as the headquarters of PDVSA, the Venezuelan public oil company, can be destroyed. Gundersen, who lives in Oregeon, is married to a Venezuelan and has family who live in Caracas.
The Venezuela Solidarity Network believes that a violent video game attacking a country that has been targeted for “regime change” by the Bush administration, is more than just a game. VSN Interim Coordinator Chuck Kaufman stated, “Pandemic Studios has designed training videos for the army and the CIA. We don’t believe they just happened to pick Venezuela at random as the site of their new video game.”
The religious sign-on letter to Bono was written and distributed by the Maryknoll Office of Global Concerns in Washington, DC. Director Marie Dennis also objected to the realistic violence in the game. “Our faith traditions motivate us to confront the international debt problem that robs human dignity and calls us to counter the culture of violence that pervades our society today,” she said. “The celebration of violence in much of our media, music and video games is poisoning our children.”
For more information visit www.vensolidarity.org. Religious leaders who wish to still sign on to the letter can do so by sending an email to [email protected]. There is also a secular sign-on letter on the web page for people who are not religious leaders.