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 SECTION 01 OF 02 RANGOON 000020
STATE FOR EAP/BCLTV, DRL
COMMERCE FOR ITA JEAN KELLY
USPACOM FOR FPA
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/04/2015
SUBJECT: OPPOSITION CALLS FOR "CLEAN SLATE," SPDC THREATENS
REF: A. 04 RANGOON 1628
B. 04 RANGOON 1563
Classified By: CDA a.i. Ron McMullen for Reasons 1.4 (B,D)
1. (C) Summary: Democratic opposition groups held their
annual January 4th Independence Day celebrations despite a
negative SPDC response to a December demand for dialogue
before the holiday. The observances were well attended and
seem to indicate a unity of purpose among the different
groups. With the opposition's private threat of forming a
parallel government and the SPDC's public threat of legal
action looming, we will see if this unity of purpose leads to
unity of action. End summary.
The SPDC Responds to Ultimatum
2. (SBU) To mark Burma's 57th Independence Day on January
4th, the SPDC issued its usual statements about unity, the
importance of the military's role, and the necessity to march
towards "a modern, developed, and discipline-flourishing
democratic nation with the seven step policy." It also
issued a response, through a planted article in the January
5-11 edition of newspaper "The Flower News," to a December 2,
2004 NLD ultimatum to Senior General Than Shwe (ref B) to
begin a dialogue with the NLD by January 4th, "or else." The
ultimatum noted that the Committee Representing the People's
Parliament (CRPP) -- a loose consultative group of opposition
groups -- had endorsed the NLD's position.
3. (SBU) The SPDC response was predictably dismissive. The
article accused the NLD once again of "destructionist"
tactics and of threatening to use the "outlawed" CRPP as "a
weapon." It continued by noting the SPDC had generously
allowed the CRPP to exist despite its legal status, but that
the regime would have no choice but to take legal action "at
any time" if the CRPP and NLD moved to form a parallel
government (ref A). Furthermore, the article asserted, the
"People would never accept" such a move.
Opposition Reiterates Call for Dialogue
4. (SBU) The NLD and the Veteran Politicians group held their
separate annual Independence Day events as scheduled. The
NLD marked the holiday at its headquarters in Rangoon. A
crowd of perhaps 200 members attended the function, packing
the dilapidated building and spilling out onto the sidewalk
and street. NLD Secretary U Lwin gave a keynote address that
was moderate to gentle in tone. The NLD and allied parties'
ultimatum to the SPDC, and the regime's indirect and negative
response produced no follow-on call for action. Six
diplomatic missions attended the NLD event (United States,
Australia, Japan, the U.K., France, and Germany). After the
function diplomats spontaneously lined up for a group pose
for the bevy of Military Intelligence paparazzi engaged in a
snapping frenzy across the street. The NLD crowd roared with
laughter and applauded the move.
5. (SBU) The Veteran Politicians, the remaining elders from
the original independence movement and first (and last)
democratic government in the 1950s, held a similar event
across town with speeches on the history of Burma's
independence movement -- both pre and post-1948. The keynote
address publicly endorsed the NLD/CRPP position that a "clean
slate" and open dialogue between the government and the
democratic parties were needed to break the political
deadlock. Despite the large crowd in attendance, the United
States was the only diplomatic mission to send a
representative -- much to the excitement of the three still
and one video photographer sent by MI.
Comment: Unity of Purpose, But Little Leverage
6. (C) Despite no inclination from the SPDC to sit down with
the NLD, the Independence Day events, particularly the
Veteran Politicians' ceremony, appeared to signify a new
unity of purpose to push the regime for dialogue. Both
observances were better attended than in previous years by
the various opposition "factions:" the NLD leadership, the
more aggressive NLD youth movement, as well as ethnic
political leaders. With the deadline passed for a positive
SPDC response to the ultimatum, and with the threat of "legal
action" looming, we will see if this apparent unity of
purpose engenders unity of action. End comment.
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