June 27th, 2009
06:01 PM ET
5 years ago

Laura Bush speaks out on Burma

Laura Bush is speaking out on the ongoing situation in Burma.
Laura Bush is speaking out on the ongoing situation in Burma.

(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.

Related: Myanmar's Suu Kyi turns 64 in prison

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."


Filed under: Laura Bush
soundoff (213 Responses)
  1. Susan

    Laura should be commended for her efforts here. Good for her. I'm sure not doing anything like that with my time. Burmese politics may not currently be relevant to us, but I'm sure the people living there are praying (albeit secretly) for any kind of help, and should it come, it will be relevant to them. No one party has a monopoly on moral high ground. I know that labeling and generalizing is easier than objectivity, but it's just lazy. Has America always been this politically divided? or this nasty about it?

    "Never judge a man until you walk two moons in his moccasins".

    June 27, 2009 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  2. I can read

    Apparently some, closing in on most, can't read. Where in the article did Mrs Bush say that the US needed to invade Burma? It clearly said that she felt the UN Secretary General needed to press the issue of human rights. I've about had my fill of this "change"....seems the partisan bickering and hatred by the left has only changed to additional hostility.

    June 27, 2009 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  3. mimi

    Laura you are a great Lady!

    History will think the same about your husband. just give us time!

    You know Obama is doing exactly what Bush did! Bush is a great teacher for Obama, just people are not too fast to catch up yet!.

    June 27, 2009 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  4. sifto77

    people on the left are still in their basements-people–Obama has been in charge sine Nov 2008–the country is ruined because of Obama–not Bush–enjoy your "green bills". Enjoy your jobs going overseas where they let them drill and use fuel (oh, I forgot Al Gore still gets to use jet fuel.)

    June 27, 2009 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  5. JJ

    I disliked President Bush, but have always and plan to continue having respect for the former First Lady.

    Signed
    A Democrat

    June 27, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  6. you got to be kidding me

    where was this voice of concern during the last 8 years. Maybe she should have spoken up about her husband's abuses taking place right under her nose.

    June 27, 2009 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  7. Jerry

    Michelle should take lessons from Laura.
    Of course, the devotees of CNN will use this as another opportunity to bash her husband, who – with all his faults – was still a fabulous improvement over our current President.

    June 27, 2009 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  8. Thomasr

    The very policies of the Bush administration transformed this country into something I do not recognize anymore. The neo con right wing is always so concerned about other countries at the expense of our own. They just don't get that and our country has paid the ultimate price.

    June 27, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  9. bimmer

    As a first lady, Luara was a class act. A true patriot who always loved and will continue to love her country no matter what..

    June 27, 2009 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  10. Walt from Canada

    Why did she not speak out when her husband inflicted the agony and killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi's, women and children included , for just defending their homeland???

    She, her husband and Cheney should just shut up and stay out of sight!! The widow's and children of the fallen American soldiers do NOT want to hear from these people!!t

    June 27, 2009 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  11. Walt from Canada

    AND while I am at it::: CNN are constantly going on about the Iran elections! Where were they in 2000, 2002 and 2004 when Bush and Cheney STOLE those elections, in 2002 and 2004 thru FEAR that CNN was complicit in and was cheering them on!! They should also shut up about other countries elections and look at their own instead that they NEVER talk about!! Except PRESIDENT Obama's!

    June 27, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  12. Marcia, Marcia, Marcia in CA

    Stepford wives just keep on ticking...

    June 27, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  13. Angel Glares

    She's one incredible lady.

    June 27, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  14. Trang

    Laura,

    We like to help all people in the world who are suffering if we can. Maybe you can fundraise the rich people – because they are getting richer. Meanwhile, our focus should be on the people at home. Of course, everybody would like everybody to be able to take care of themselves ... however, that is not happening. People are losing their jobs. People are losing their homes. People are losing their retirement savings because of the market tumbles. People can't pay for their healthcare bills. Kids graduate from college stuck w/ high debt and can't find a job.

    What do you want us to do? Speak out? Do you think it makes a difference? Do you think the United Nations can do anything about it? It's always sad to see human suffering and wishing you can do something about it.

    June 27, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  15. Simmy

    Willy Brown,

    Just the opposite, sir.....Many of US Liberals are doing just fine.......But this is not a setting to boast about personal assets, etc....It's sad that so many of you Republicans are filled with hatred, and can't find positives things to say about anyone nor anything......You probably suffer from self-loathing......If per chance there is anyone on this blog who has to run and get to a shelter, I applaud your fortitude and confidence....It takes a special courage to feel that you've something to contribute to life when life seems not to be contributing to you.....I like to view the glass as half filled, it you know what I mean......Long live the King of Pop in hearts of those who love and respect him!

    June 27, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  16. skofbushes

    No bread? ..let them eat cake.....another famous woman's limp comment of the world from the elite seat of power

    June 27, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  17. hoaner

    shut up you greedy old bag.

    June 27, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  18. mabear

    Why didn't she complain about the human rights violations of the Bush Administration. He hired contractors to kill many innocent Iraquis under the guise of protection. He put people in GITMO who had no business being there and violated their rights. He did nothing in Darfur when people who needed help while our military wasted its time in a phony war in Iraq. She is the pot calling the kettle black, and I am astonished that she would make such inane comments when he and her husband led the charge in human rights violations for eight years.

    June 27, 2009 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  19. Justin from Warrensburg, Missouri

    I'm a democrat, and I very much agree with the former First Lady. I'm glad she's taking a stand and denouncing the atrocities happening in Burma, as well as the issue of child soldiers around the world. I believe it is important to use our influence to help our diplomatic efforts around the world. Unlike most complainers, I generally was alright with Bush. I still didn't like him though, and that's my opinion. I, however, recognize Bush's diplomatic efforts with India in 2002, a fact that most people don't know. I respect Bush for that. I can't say how will be judged. That will only occur many presidencies from now, when we are emotionally disjointed from the previous administration, and I believe that it will be my children who judge Bush.

    I understand that many of you are taking this opportunity to bash Obama, like the opportunists you are. Leave the man alone, and let him do his job that he was DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED to do. And, democrats, stop being so ignorant, and step out of the ivory tower. Obama is not Jesus. He is a man, just like everyone else. I like Obama, don't get me wrong. I know that he is still a politician, just like everyone else in D.C. I have good faith that he'll do the right thing. Republicans, watch and see what his actions do before you criticize or make claims that we're becoming communists. I almost feel like Joseph McCarthy is around somewhere laughing maniacally.

    June 27, 2009 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  20. Erica

    You illiterate posters need to leave Laura Bush alone. She is a lovely, intelligent lady,; something you are all incapable of understanding, along with her kind of compassion.

    June 27, 2009 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  21. Terri C.

    Just a follow-up note to Steven: Your comments are EXACTLY what's wrong with the liberals A$$H*LES in this country. They care about NO ONE except themselves. Innocent people being arrested, punished, tortured and killed all over the world, and your only comeback is "who cares"???? Your fearless leader is cut from the same cloth; he doesn't care about the innocent people in Iran, he just doesn't want to tick off Ahmadinejad so that the Iranian terrorists still show up at his weinie roast on July 4. You people are a bunch of featherweight PANSIES! At least George Bush knew what he believed in and stuck by it! THANK YOU LAURA BUSH FOR CONTINUING TO SHOW THE REST OF THE WORLD THAT THERE ARE STILL FREEDOM-LOVING AMERICANS WHO DO CARE ABOUT THE HELPLESS AND THE DOWN-TRODDEN! Laura Bush makes me PROUD ONCE AGAIN to be an American!

    June 27, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  22. No Obama = No Hillary

    I must concede that she has a point. America is a beacon of democracy and it should help spread democracy across the globe.

    June 27, 2009 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  23. Mark

    She is such a class act. All future first lady's should follow her lead. God Bless her!

    June 27, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  24. Liberals lack honesty

    Ms. Bush is a classy lady. It still amazes me that the liberals (not Democrats) still blame everything on Mr. Bush. The Democrats have been in charge of Congress for three years now. In six months they have spent more money than in the past 200 years of being a country. Nobody has been able to answer this......Who is going to repay the debt??? EVERYONE is....Obama lied to you.

    June 27, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  25. MIke

    "No I'm right"
    "No I'm right"
    "No I'm right"
    "No I'm right"
    "I thought you didn't believe in a definite right or wrong"

    June 27, 2009 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
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