News / Asia

Burmese Diplomat Defects, Cites Fears for Safety

Multimedia

Audio

For the second time in less than two weeks, a senior Burmese diplomat has defected.  He says he feared for his safety after being recalled to Burma.

Soe Aung, the Burmese embassy’s first secretary in Washington, sent a letter to the U.S. State Department on Wednesday declaring that he wanted to defect. He later told VOA’s Burmese Service that he fears for his safety and that of his family.

He had been ordered to return to Burma for an investigation into last week’s defection of another diplomat. Soe Aung said he was told on Tuesday that he must return to Burma within 24 hours, accompanied by a military official. His and his wife’s diplomatic passports had been confiscated. Soe Aung told VOA that two other diplomats already have been called back to Burma and placed under investigation.

Kyaw Win, the embassy’s deputy chief of mission, defected last week. He says he defected because his efforts to push for reform had been rejected and that he feared he would be prosecuted in Burma. Kyaw Win told VOA on Wednesday he had hoped that following last year’s election, Burma's military would ease its grip on power and improve its human rights record.

Listen to VOA interview with Kyaw Win

He says the human rights situation in Burma is getting worse, especially in remote areas. Kyaw Win says that in 1998, the military leaders promised change, but it never happened. He adds that in 2004, new leaders talked about changes, but it never happened.

Kyaw Win says he thinks Soe Aung and other civilian diplomats are being blamed for his defection, but that they were his subordinates. He says military and ex-military staff at the embassy are not being investigated.

Aung Din is executive director of the United States Campaign for Burma, a rights group based in Washington. He says diplomats could face stiff punishment, if Burmese military authorities decide they failed in their duties in the Kyaw Win case.

“He will be severely tortured, and he will be sent to the military tribunal for imprisonment," said Aung Din. "So I believe that he or she will have a great danger when he or she returns back to Burma.”

Burma's government has long been considered one of the most repressive in the world.  The United States and many other governments have imposed tough economic sanctions on the country because of its lack of political reform.

The military described last year's election, the first in 20 years, as a key element of a plan to return the country to civilian rule after four decades of army leadership. But critics of the government say the vote solidified military control because an army-backed party won 80 percent of the elected parliament seats.

Aung Din of United States Campaign for Burma says there could be more defections in the coming months, in part, because the new foreign minister is replacing many career civilian diplomats with people he trusts. But he also says some diplomats might feel the way Kyaw Win does. 

You May Like

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing 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.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid