07/14/2011, 00.00
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Washington: another Burmese diplomat asks for political asylum

The first secretary in the Myanmar Embassy in Washington defects. He had been ordered home. A colleague in the same embassy defected ten days ago. Experts believe the loss of hope for freedom and democracy at home are pushing many Myanmar officials to seek refuge abroad.
Washington (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Soe Aung, first secretary of the Myanmar Embassy in Washington, expressed to the US State Department "his desire to apply for political asylum in the United States”. Myanmar has often been accused of serious human rights violations, including murder, torture, kidnapping, forced labour and using child soldiers. Recent elections have not changed the situation. Many Myanmar officials posted abroad are now losing hope for change and so have decided not to go home.

Soe Aung is a career diplomat who served in Geneva, Bangkok and Singapore. He was posted to Washington in 2008. On Tuesday, he was told to return home with his family within 24 hours for a possible investigation, Aung Din, the executive director for the U.S. Campaign for Burma, told Radio Free Asia.

For Aung Din, Soe Aung’s defection is connected with that of Kyaw Win, the Embassy's deputy chief of mission, who told US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a letter that his efforts to push for reform were rejected by his government and that he feared prosecution if he returned home.

This set off alarm bells in Myanmar’s Foreign Ministry, which began a departmental enquiry that could have led to Soe Aung’s punishment for not preventing Kyaw Win’s defection.

“It is possible that more defections of the regime's diplomats will be coming soon,” Aung Din said. “Many civilian diplomats of the regime are beginning to lose their hope of seeing freedom, justice, and democracy in their country and are not willing to serve under a military regime disguised as a civilian government” or “ defend the regime in the international community."
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