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.
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…