Myanmar envoy defects to U.S., criticizes ruling junta

Says elections ‘neither free nor fair’

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A senior diplomat from Myanmar has defected to the United States and stated in a letter that the ruling military junta continues to dominate the country after the 2010 elections.

“Senior military officials are consolidating their grip on power and seeking to stamp out the voices of those seeking democracy, human rights and individual liberties,” Kyaw Win, deputy chief of mission for Myanmar’s Embassy to the United States, stated in a July 4 letter to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton asking for political asylum. Mr. Win confirmed his defection on Tuesday.

Mr. Win wrote to Mrs. Clinton that he could no longer work with the military junta that has controlled Myanmar for 22 years.

“After over 31 years of service … I had lost confidence and my conscience would no longer allow me to work for the government,” Mr. Winn wrote.

Myanmar held elections in November that “were neither free nor fair,” according to the Department of State.

The State Department declined to confirm Mr. Win’s defection.

“We are in receipt of a letter from [Mr. Win],” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters Tuesday.

Mr. WIn, in his letter, warned of the dangers facing Aung San Suu Kyi, the pro-democracy advocate and Nobel Peace Prize winner who until recently has been under house arrest by the junta.

“Threats are being made against Aung San Suu Kyi — they must be taken seriously,” he wrote.

Ms. Suu Kyi is planning an upcoming tour of the country. The government of the country has warned her not to “exploit the public” during her tour in order to prevent any unrest.

During Ms. Suu Kyi’s last tour of the country, in 2003, fights broke out between supporters and opponents of her opposition political movement, which led the military junta to place her under house arrest for seven years.

Mr. Win called on Mrs. Clinton, as well as the U.S. government, to increase pressure on Myanmar’s government and supporters.

“Sanctions can play a critical role in denying the regime, and the businessmen who live off of them, access to the international financial system,” he wrote.

There is hope for the democracy movement in Myanmar, Mr. Win wrote, as it is “alive and well and at some point will prevail.”

Mr. Win, a member of Myanmar’s foreign service for 31 years, has also asked for asylum for his wife and three children, who are already in the United States.

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