(CNN) – Former First Lady Laura Bush - who has kept a low profile since her husband's administration came to an end - is speaking out on a cause she championed while in the White House: the ongoing situation in Burma.
In a Washington Post op-ed set to be published in the paper's Sunday edition, Bush draws parallels between the events in Iran and Burma (Myanmar), and urges the United Nations to press the ruling regime there to end human rights abuses.
"In the past 21 months, the number of political prisoners incarcerated by the junta has doubled," Bush writes in the op-ed. "Within the past 10 days, two Burmese citizens were sentenced to 18 months in prison. Their offense: praying in a Buddhist pagoda for the release of the jailed opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. That is only the tip of the regime's brutality."
Suu Kyi, under house arrest for 13 of the past 19 years, had been expected to be freed by the military junta last month, until the new subversion charge was filed. Suu Kyi is accused of violating her house arrest by offering temporary shelter to American John William Yettaw, who swam to her lakeside home on May 3. She said she doesn't know Yettaw, didn't know of his plans and didn't do anything wrong.
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Her supporters say the arrest is meant to keep her confined so she cannot participate in the general elections that the junta has scheduled for next year. President Obama urged for her release last month.
In her op-ed, Bush also says the ruling regime has forced tens of thousands of child soldiers into its army, closed churches and mosques, and imprisoned comedians and bloggers who take aim at the government.
"With U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon planning to visit Burma this summer, it is crucial that he press the regime to take immediate steps to end human rights abuses, particularly in ethnic minority areas," writes Bush. "There have been 38 U.N. resolutions condemning these abuses, yet the horrors continue unabated. Under the junta's brutal rule, too many lives have been wasted, lives whose talents could have helped all of Burma prosper."