The U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York announced on Aug. 6 the arrest of two Myanmar citizens residing in the city who had "plotted to seriously injure or kill Myanmar’s ambassador to the United Nations." The court filing states that Phyo Hein Htut, 28, and Ye Hein Zaw, 20, were involved in plans to attack Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun by tampering with the tires on his car to cause a crash while he was inside. Kyaw Moe Tun, 52, had represented Myanmar’s civilian-led government which was overthrown in a Feb. 1 military coup, but now represents the country’s shadow National Unity Government (NUG), formed in opposition to the junta. He has been a prominent critic of Myanmar’s military regime that seized power on Feb. 1, and has refused demands of the junta to step down as ambassador and now represents the country’s civilian-led shadow government. Khin Maung Soe of RFA’s Myanmar Service spoke with the ambassador a day after the U.S. Justice Department announced the arrests. Following are excerpts of the interview:
RFA: How did you find out about the plot to hurt or kill you?
Kyaw Moe Tun: It was last Tuesday when I heard about this and I informed the FBI and the U.S. Mission at the United Nations, who had been working with us all along and greatly helping us. They were worried for my safety and have provided me 24-hour security protection.
RFA: How did you get the information about the plot?
Kyaw Moe Tun: I got the information from the Burmese community here.
RFA: One report said the FBI first found out about the plot on Aug. 3 and contacted a volunteer working for your security and let him know about the assassination plot. What do you know about that?
Kyaw Moe Tun: I actually do not know all the details, but as soon as I learned about it, I informed the relevant authorities.
RFA: How do you feel now? Are you worried about your safety?
Kyaw Moe Tun: I’m not worried at all because the host nation has taken all of the security precautions. Of course I was a little disturbed at first when I learned about it. But since I am on American soil and the U.S. government has given me a 24 hour protection I do not feel worried at all now. The measures they take, the way they work, are so professional and I really thank them, the FBI, the NYPD, the Westchester Police and the U.S. mission to the UN, led by Linda Thomas as well as the UN Security Service.
RFA: Is it true that your residence is now well guarded and that a security detail is provided for your daily commute?
Kyaw Moe Tun: Yes it is. They have taken full responsibility for the security of my residence as well as my office. They have their standard procedures and I fully cooperate with them.
RFA: Why do you think they tried to get rid of you?
Kyaw Moe Tun: That is very difficult for us to know. Only they would know the truth.
RFA: The accused have stated that they were paid by an agent in Thailand. Do you think the military junta has something to do with this plot?
Kyaw Moe Tun: I don’t want to speculate on this. The U.S. Department of Justice has said they would carry on with the required investigations, and we will only know the truth after the investigations.
RFA: Can you tell us about any plans you may have regarding Myanmar to be presented to the UN in the near future?
Kyaw Moe Tun: We have started preparations for the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly, to be held next month. The current 75th General Assembly session will end on Sept. 13, and we haven’t found any challenges nor objections so far. However, we might find some challenges at the next session as the other side (junta) will make proposals to appoint someone to the UN Credentials Committee.
Translated by Khin Maung Nyane
This content originally appeared on Radio Free Asia and was authored by Radio Free Asia.