This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available. C O N F I D E N T I A L RANGOON 001504
STATE FOR EAP/BCLTV, DRL
COMMERCE FOR ITA JEAN KELLY
USPACOM FOR FPA
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/23/2014
SUBJECT: BURMA PRISONER RELEASES: BEFORE YOU GET TOO
REF: A. RANGOON 1499 AND PREVIOUS
B. RANGOON 1488
Classified By: COM Carmen Martinez for Reasons 1.4 (B,D)
1. (SBU) The GOB's announcement on November 18th that nearly
4,000 prisoners -- mostly common criminals as it turns out --
would be released (ref A) is not symbolic of an improving
attitude toward the democratic opposition. There have been
no releases since November 19th, and of those released (only
1,000 thus far of the 4,000 promised) fewer than 30 were
political prisoners. In addition, NLD offices outside
Rangoon remain shuttered and there has been no mention by
authorities that they plan to release detained NLD leaders
Aung San Suu Kyi and U Tin Oo nor one of the NLD's founders U
Win Tin (who was rumored, incorrectly, to have been freed on
3. (SBU) Moving beyond maintaining the status quo for the
NLD, however, the GOB continues to harass NLD members around
the country arresting and prosecuting them on trumped up
charges. As mentioned in ref B, on November 5-6 police in
Irrawaddy Division (south of Rangoon) arrested three local
NLD members for violations of the Press and Publication Act,
which prohibits publication and distribution of any material
without prior approval by the GOB's censor board. The NLD
members, U Han Sein, U Than Htut, and U Win Maung, were
traveling back to their hometowns carrying a regular shipment
of NLD official proclamations for distribution among local
party members. The NLD's national and divisional leadership
and lawyers have complained that the law allows distribution
of official documentation from legal political parties. Thus
far this argument has carried no water, and on November 19th
the Township court arbitrarily delayed a hearing for the
three until the 29th stating that this case must be heard
before the Divisional court. According to NLD lawyers this
is a very irregular decision.
4. (C) Comment: There are rumors that the initial release of
nearly 30 political prisoners is a precursor to a general
amnesty, though we've not seen any evidence that this is so.
However, even as some number of political prisoners are
released, the GOB continues its revolving door policy of
matching publicly trumpeted releases with quiet new arrests.
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