Burmese Diplomat Seeks Asylum in US

source from Irrawaddy news, 4 July 2011

The second highest-ranking diplomat at the Burmese embassy in Washington has defected, just three months after the formation of a new military-backed government that promised to usher in democratic reforms.

In a letter addressed to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Kyaw Win, the deputy chief of mission at the embassy, said he was seeking asylum because he had been “deemed dangerous” by the new regime for suggesting “actions to improve bilateral relations between Burma and the US.”


Kyaw Win (Photo: Radio Free Asia)

He also dismissed suggestions that the new government, formed after an election held last November, was trying to move the country closer to democracy.


“Senior military officials are consolidating their grip on power and seeking to stamp out the voices of those seeking democracy,” wrote Kyaw Win in the letter, adding that recent fighting between government troops and the Kachin Independence Army near the border with China made this obvious.

He also warned that threats made by the Burmese government regarding pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who is now visiting the ancient city of Pagan in Upper Burma, “must be taken seriously.”

Kyaw Win, 59, is a career diplomat who has worked for the Burmese Foreign Ministry for 31 years, with postings in Madrid, Geneva, New Delhi, Brasilia and Washington. He has been serving in his current post at the Burmese embassy in Washington since 2008. 

He is the second high-ranking Burmese diplomat to seek political asylum in US in recent years. In  2005, former Maj Aung Lynn Htut resigned as deputy chief of mission at the Burmese embassy in Washington and requested political asylum in the US for himself, his wife, a son, two daughters and a sister.

Kyaw Win defected last week due to concerns about the safety of his family and his dislike for the misdeeds of the new government, according to Aung Lynn Htut, who was also a former military intelligence officer.

“I think he is also fed up with the Burmese government and there is also some danger for him if he goes back. He also asked the government to give permission for his son to live in Washington with an ordinary travel document, but this was prohibited by Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin. So I heard [Kyaw Win] is angry with him,” said Aung Lynn Htut.

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