Thursday, October 4, 2007

A Major Defector

It's a shame he couldn't have put together a mutiny...

Myanmar military officer defects to Thailand

A Myanmar military officer has fled to neighboring Thailand saying he refused orders to attack Buddhist monks in last week's anti-junta protests and denouncing the regime.

"As a Buddhist myself, when I heard that monks had been shot dead on the streets and that other people had been shot dead, I felt very upset," he said in a video interview, a copy of which was made available to Agence France-Presse.

"As a Buddhist, I did not want to see such killing."

The army major's defection is the first known case of a military official fleeing the country formerly called Burma since the junta last week ordered a crackdown that left at least 13 people dead and more than 1,000 detained.

Thai military intelligence officials have identified the officer, but he later requested that his name not be reported. The Thai officials said he was planning to request political asylum in Norway.

Speaking through an interpreter Wednesday, the officer said that the Buddhist monks who led the country's largest anti-government protests in almost 20 years were "very peaceful."

"Later, when I heard they were shot and killed and the armed forces used teargas, I was really, really upset and thought the army should stand for their own people," he said.

The soldier said he did not know which commanders had ordered troops to shoot or who had fired at the monks and demonstrators.

"I don't know if they will be punished by someone or not, but as a Buddhist, we believe that if you do those things, then bad karma will come back to them. That is our belief."

The man said he wanted Myanmar to be a "free and prosperous country."

"I don't mean a rich country, like in Europe, but a country where people can earn a proper income," he said in the video interview. "I want to see Burma peaceful and for people to live in freedom."

However, for now, he added that "it's impossible. Under the rule of the military regime, Burma will not be prosperous and peaceful."