Kyaw Win, top Burma diplomat in US, defects

A top Burmese diplomat in the United States, Kyaw Win, has defected and announced he wants to apply for political asylum.

Kyaw Win, the embassy's deputy chief of mission, is the second highest ranking Burmese diplomat in Washington, Radio Free Asia reports.

He told RFA he is defecting because the Burmese government is refusing to begin a transition to democratic rule.

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“Senior military officials are consolidating their grip on power and seeking to stamp out the voices of those seeking democracy,” he said.

Kyaw Win said the elections held in November did nothing to improve the poltiical situation in the country. Political analysts considered the elections a fraud.

“The military continues to hold uncontested power,” he said.

He also warned that threats by the government against national hero Aung San Suu Kyi must be taken seriously. Suu Kyi recently announced plans for a tour of the country, her first since the 2003 Depayin massacre that many believe was an assassination attempt.

Kyaw Win, 59, said he is applying for asylum because he fears for his safety and that of his family. He wrote in a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that he could face prosecution at home for his efforts to bring democratic reform to Burma, Voice of America reports.

He is a career diplomat who has worked for Burma’s Foreign Ministry for 31 years.