VOA Burmese Blog

July 13, 2011

Kyaw Win’s Exclusive Interview with VOA


Burmese defector, U Kyaw Win resigned from his position 10 days ago. In an exclusive interview with VOA Burmese Service, he talks about his fellow defector and former colleague, Soe Aung’s resignation.


Kyaw Win:


As far as I know, he was summoned back to (Burma) within 24 hours.  That indicated he’s considered guilty of wrongdoing.  It also indicates that the Burmese government does not trust the civilian staffer. They trust only ex-military officials.
VOA: Why 24 hours? What kind of wrongdoing do you think?

KW: I believe that it is related to my defection. But, I’ve never seen such a practice throughout my career, that someone was summoned back within 24 hours. It is very difficult to gauge why they hastily wanted him back in the country.
VOA: Can you tell me more about why do you think there’s discrimination (between the civilian diplomatic staff, and the ex-military)?

KW: Look at the investigations being done for my defection. Why is Soe Aung only accused, who is a civilian staffer? There are so many other people responsible in the Washington office. Everyone is responsible whenever anything happens in the office, so they should be investigated all together.
Also, throughout my career, I’ve noticed that there’s unequal treatment to the civilian staff, in reference to promotion, transfer and benefits. We don’t mind serving as followers and assisting those who are qualified for the jobs. However, in many cases, our seniors and bosses are not really qualified.

We (both ex-army and civilians) have equal love for the country. And nobody should think we are more patriotic than the other or that one side only deserves to lead the country.
VOA: What have you heard about other embassy staffers who have returned to Burma? We hear that they’re being investigated for your defection.



KW: I hope that they will be alright. Think about that – how would they know my defection. Why would I tell them?
VOA: Yet they’re being investigated…

KW: Yes, they are. But I don’t know much detail.
VOA: U Soe Aung was summoned back to Burma. Do you think that (his summons) was related to your defection? Can you elaborate?

KW: They (U Soe Aung and the two other civilian diplomats under investigation in Burma) are being blamed for not knowing about my defection earlier. But you know that they are my inferiors.
VOA: You stated that when you defected last week that the Foreign Ministry in Burma was disappointed about your attempts to improve relations between the U.S. and Burma. What particular areas?

KW: To improve bilateral relations, we have a lot of give and take and compromise and a lot of negotiations. What I understand about U.S. policy toward Burma is that it very much depends on improving the human rights record and democratic reforms in Burma.
What is difficult for me to understand, as you know, is the human rights situation especially in the remote areas is getting worse. But for me, I think, working throughout my career, I was hoping that the situation would improve gradually. But it hasn’t.
After 1998, (the military leaders) promised changes but it never happened. And in 2004, the (new) government led by General Khin Nyunt was talking about the changes, but it again never happened. Things are getting worse…


December 23, 2010

VOA’s Interview With Daw Aung San Suu Kyi

VOA Burmese had an exclusive interview with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi this morning. Read what she has to say about sanctions, dialogue and Burma’s future. The interview was hosted by U Than Lwin Htun of VOA Burmese.

VOA :  You’ve been calling for dialogue since you came out of house detention in November. Will we see that happen in the near future? And what makes Senior General Than Shwe reluctant to see you?

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi : I think, the last question, Senior General Than Shwe must answer himself. But as for us, although we don’t see that dialogue is imminent, at this time, we still think that it is possible. And we must do everything that we can do to make it possible.

VOA:  It is apparent that Burma needs change. The international community, including the U.N. and the U.S have been calling for political reforms in the country, but the SPDC (military regime) is going their own way, such as- taking their 7 step road map to democracy, which in fact is just to prolong the military rule in the country. What more can the international community do to persuade the military regime to move toward a real democratic change?

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi: I think it is very important that the international community speak with one voice. It should be better coordinated, as there are differences with the policies of each country and each region, as it were, with regard to Burma. So if all the members of the international community, including the United Nations, could call with one voice, for an inclusive political process in Burma, I think that would be of great help.

VOA: The Obama Administration announced a new Burma policy in late 2009 while you were in detention. The policy went from tougher sanctions and pressure policy to a milder pragmatic engagement policy. What was your thought or reaction to that?

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi: I believe in this policy of pragmatic engagement, because I think ________ (inaudible audio) engages the better. The only thing I ask is that the engagement should apply to both sides, that is, not just to the military government, but also to the opposition parties.

VOA: Critics say that the new policy is lack of real teeth. For example, the policy has no specific time-frame to exert more pressure (when the military regime is not doing enough) to move toward national reconciliation, such as, releasing political prisoners, entering dialogue etc. What is your thought on that?

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi: Well, I think, especially with regard to freeing all political prisoners, there ought to be a time frame. And of course, this is something, that I’m sure, the United States administration is thinking over because the situation is changing all the time. I think it is quite normal for governments to review their policies from time to time.

VOA: People are saying, and especially the policy makers are defending, that the engagement is an on-going process, but it should not be on-going for so long without tangible results. If, as you said, the policy makers are to review the process, what would be your input?

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi: I think the on-going process should involve some milestones which of course would be in the time frame. Certain milestones should be reached in a certain time frame. Otherwise, the freedom of political prisoners, like I had said, would be on-going forever, and there might be no results at all. I think this is something that the United States government should be prepared to consider especially as we have the very very strong support of the congress.


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