Friday, November 25, 2011

Diplomat U Kyaw Win's letter to The Honorable Hillary Clinton

The Honorable Hillary Clinton

The Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
Dated : July 4, 2011

Dear Secretary Clinton,

I am writing to inform you that, as of today, I have no choice but to leave the service of the Government of Myanmar and I am formally requesting political asylum in the United States for me and my family. After over 31 years of service in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, I had lost confidence and my conscience would no longer allow me to work for the government. It has always been my hope that democratic reform could finally be realized in my country. The truth is that, despite the election that was held up as a democratic process, the military continues to hold uncontested power and democratic change under this system will not happen in the foreseeable future.

As the Deputy Chief of Mission to the Myanmar embassy in Washington, I was responsible forreaching out to the Washington, D.C.-based diplomatic community, members of Congress, the media and the governmental and NGO circles. Unfortunately, my efforts of reaching out to groups and individuals here, and my reports suggesting of actions to improve bilateral relation between Myanmar and the U.S. have been continually rejected and resulted in my being deemed dangerous by the government. Because of this, I am also convinced and live in fear that I will be prosecuted for my actions, efforts and beliefs when I return to Naypyidaw after completing my tour of duty here.

When I first began my service in the Foreign Ministry I thought that, over time and perhaps with the help of my efforts, the military would ease its grip and send Myanmar on a path to greater political pluralism. However, the truth is that 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. Oppression is rising and war against our ethnic cousins is imminent and at present, threats are being made against Aung San Suu Kyi --they must be taken seriously. 

I have not left the service of my people, but I have defected from working for a government which is against its countrymen. I know that many in the military believe, like me, that the army of General Aung San has been corrupted and is now an oppressor of the people, not a defender of the people. I want to urge them not to fear democracy, but embrace it as the only way forward that can bring peace to the land we love. They too can become the heroes for whom the army used to represent by preventing violence and take steps to ease tensions and build respect with our ethnic minorities.

Madam Secretary, I respectfully want to urge you to use the political will of the United States to create through an international body, a council of inquiry to investigate the human rights violations that have taken place in the conflict zones of my country by the government’s armed forces or any other armed groups. I also respectfully urge you to fully implement highly targeted financial sanctions against the government and their cronies that serve to keep them in power.These sanctions can play a critical role in denying the regime, and the businessmen who live off of them, access to the international financial system.

The United States has played a special role in standing up for democracy and freedom in my country. Please, it is more important than ever that my country not be allowed to disappear behind the headlines of countries experiencing their own troubles. There are many civil servants and those in the military who can benefit greatly from greater exposure to the international community and international norms and values. Continued engagement with my government at all levels can help open a window, change the mindset imprinted by the regime, and let them see an alternative path towards peace and freedom.

Recently, Mongolian President Elbegdorj, a strong supporter of democracy in my country, spoke in Washington where he stated that “no dictatorship, no military regime, no authoritarian government can stand against the collective will of a people who want to be free.” I could not agree more and I hope those words start the leaders in Naypyidaw thinking about how to build  meaningful peace and prosperity in Myanmar.

I look forward to devoting my time, energy and my future to the freedom of my homeland. I thank you for your efforts on behalf of my countrymen and, as the American people celebrate their Independence Day, we will one day soon celebrate ours. The democracy movement in my country cannot be crushed. It is alive and well and at some point will prevail.
Kyaw Win

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