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A massive group of former world leaders, presidents, and prime ministers – including Mikhail Gorbachev, Jimmy Carter, Tony Blair, and George Bush Sr – have written to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to ask him to secure the release of all political prisoners in Burma by the end of this year.

“We write this letter to applaud your public consideration of traveling to Burma, also known as Myanmar, before the end of the year,” the leaders wrote in the letter. “We encourage this trip because it would illustrate for the world whether or not the Burmese military regime is serious about making changes called for by the United Nations Security Council and your good offices.”

The Burmese military regime is currently trying to silence the people of Burma through a major crackdown on human rights activists, but the leaders from 50 countries have joined the effort to set them free and make their voices heard.

“As you are aware, on October 11, 2007, the United Nations Security Council issued a Presidential statement calling on the Burmese military junta to release all political prisoners in Burma, including the world’s only imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi.

“We urge you to make it clear that all political prisoners in Burma must be released by the end of this year, regardless of whether you travel to Burma. If the Burmese junta continues to defy the United Nations by refusing to make these releases by the end of the year, we urge you to encourage the Security Council to take further concrete action to implement its call for the release of all political prisoners.”

Several human rights groups, including the US Campaign for Burma, are currently trying to get the full letter published in this Sunday’s edition of the New York Times to publicize the leaders’ involvement in the cause and raise awareness of the issue.

“The Burmese people are counting on the United Nations to take the required action to achieve the breakthrough they desperately need to both restore democracy to their country and address the serious humanitarian and human rights challenges that they face.”

The full text of the letter can be read here.

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