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Lawmakers worldwide urge Myanmar probe

Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been under house arrest 14 of past 20 years.
Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been under house arrest 14 of past 20 years.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • In letter, lawmakers from 29 countries cite "widespread and systematic crimes"
  • Obama condemns Myanmar, Congo, Darfur in Nobel acceptance speech
  • Obama says Myanmar among governments that brutalize "own people"
  • Military junta has ruled Myanmar since 1962
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(CNN) -- More than 400 lawmakers from around the world have urged the United Nations to investigate Myanmar's military junta, accusing it of committing crimes against humanity.

In a letter sent to the U.N. Security Council on Thursday, the lawmakers -- from 29 countries, including France, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States -- also pressed for a global arms embargo against the regime.

"For too many years, the Security Council has ignored widespread and systematic crimes carried about by Burma's military regime, including the destruction of over 3,300 ethnic minority villages, widespread rape of ethnic women, the forced displacement of over 1 million refugees and internally displaced persons, the recruitment of tens of thousands of child soldiers, and the prolific use of modern-day slave labor," the letter says.

"The longer the council waits, the more people in Burma will die," the letter concludes.

The military junta has ruled Myanmar, also known as Burma, since 1962.

After years of refusing direct talks with Myanmar, the United States has indicated a possible re-engagement with the military regime.

In his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, U.S. President Barack Obama named Myanmar, Congo and Darfur as governments that "violate international law by brutalizing their own people," and said there must be consequences.

He also praised Myanmar's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, a fellow Nobel Peace laureate.

Myanmar's military junta has kept Suu Kyi under house arrest for about 14 of the past 20 years. Obama called for her release and that of other political prisoners when he spoke in Singapore at a summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations economic alliance in November.