News / Asia

Burmese Diplomat Defects to US

The senior diplomat writes to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, saying he has lost hope that his country's leaders will effect democratic change

A recent photo of Kyaw Win, the second-ranking official at the Burmese embassy in Washington, D.C.
A recent photo of Kyaw Win, the second-ranking official at the Burmese embassy in Washington, D.C.

Multimedia

Audio
  • Analysis on the defection of a senior Burmese diplomat

A senior Burmese diplomat has announced his defection in the United States, saying he has lost hope that his country's leaders will effect democratic change in the foreseeable future.

Kyaw Win, the second-ranking official at the Burmese embassy in Washington, says in a July 4 letter to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that his efforts to push for reform have been rejected and he fears prosecution if he returns to Burma.

In the letter, he urges the United States to maintain targeted economic sanctions against the Burmese leaders and their businessmen allies, and to press for an international council of inquiry to investigate Burmese human rights abuses.

The diplomat confirmed his resignation and request of asylum in the United States by telephone to a reporter for VOA's Burmese service.

Kyaw Win is a career diplomat with 31 years experience who has served in major Burmese embassies from India to Brazil. He is also seeking asylum for his wife and three adult children, all of whom are living in the United States.

Listen to analysis by Monique Skidmore, professor at the University of Canberra

In his letter, Kyaw Win says he had hoped that, over time, Burma's military would ease its grip on power and move Burma to greater political pluralism. But, he says, the military has retained its hold on uncontested power in spite of elections last year that brought in a nominally civilian leadership.

He says that in reality, senior military officials are seeking "to stamp out the voices of those seeking democracy, human rights and individual liberties." He says war against the nation's ethnic minorities is "imminent" and threats against pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi must be taken seriously.

Kyaw Win appears to be referring to recent warnings of potential "chaos" if Aung San Suu Kyi goes ahead with a planned national tour this month. When she attempted a tour of upper Burma in 2003, government thugs attacked her motorcade, killing numerous people.

The diplomat says that during his time in Washington, he has tried to build bridges between the Burmese government and the international community. But, he says, his recommendations have been continually rejected and he is now considered "dangerous" by his own government.

Kyaw Win says the United States has played a special role in standing up for freedom and democracy in his country. He urges Secretary Clinton to facilitate the creation of an international body to investigate human rights abuses perpetrated in Burma's conflict zones by the military and other armed groups.

He also says that highly targeted economic sanctions can play a "critical role" in keeping the Burmese leaders and the businessmen who live off of them from having access to the international financial system.

You May Like

Analysis: China Raises Hong Kong Rhetoric to Tiananmen Level

A front-page commentary in The People’s Daily called the current demonstrations 'chaos,' the same word Party officials used 25 years ago to describe the Tiananmen Square protests More

US Airstrikes Anger Syrian Civilians Fleeing Their Homes

Pentagon officials say they have seen no credible evidence of civilian deaths caused by US airstrikes against Islamic State militants More

Child Sexual Exploitation to Worsen in SE Asia

Southeast Asia’s planned economic integration is a key step for boosting the region’s productivity, but carries downsides as well More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid