In fear for his safety, another senior Burmese diplomat has defected. Soe Aung defected within less than 10 days after Kyaw Win’s resignation. VOA News reports…
( Radio report- transcribed: )
Soe Aung, the Burmese embassy’s first secretary in Washington, on Wednesday sent a letter to the U.S. State Department declaring he wanted to defect.
He told VOA’s Burmese Service that he feared for his safety and that of his family. He has been ordered to return to Burma for an investigation into last week’s defection of another diplomat.
Soe Aung said he was told 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.
Kyaw Win has said he defected because his efforts to push for reform had been rejected and he feared he would be prosecuted in Burma.
Kyaw Win on Wednesday told VOA’s Burmese Service that he had hoped that following last year’s election, Burma’s military would ease its grip on power and improve its human rights record.
((KYAW WIN IN BURMESE, ESTABLISH, FADE))
He says the human rights situation is getting worse, especially in remote areas. In 1988, the military leaders promised changes, but they never happened. In 2004, leaders promised change. But it never happened.
Kyaw Win says he thinks Soe Aung and other civilian diplomats are being blamed for his defection, but he says, they were his subordinates. And he says, military and ex-military staff at the embassy are not being investigated.
Aung Din is the executive director of the United States Campaign for Burma, a rights group in Washington. He says diplomats could face stiff punishment if military intelligence authorities decide they have failed in their duties in the Kyaw Win case.
((AUNG DIN ACT))
“He will be severely tortured, and he will be sent to the military tribunal for imprisonment. 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, since an army-backed party won 80 percent of the elected parliament seats.
Aung Din says there could be more defections in the coming months. That is in part, he says, because the new foreign minister is replacing many career civilian diplomats with people he trusts.
But also, he says, some diplomats may feel the way Kyaw Win does.