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Cablegate: Icrc's Role in Burma, Southern Thailand, Cambodia

VZCZCXRO8995
PP RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHPF #1098 2360935
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 240935Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8878
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHCHI/AMCONSUL CHIANG MAI PRIORITY 0054
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA PRIORITY 1627

C O N F I D E N T I A L PHNOM PENH 001098

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/MLS, PRM AND DRL. GENEVA FOR RMA.

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/23/2017
TAGS: PHUM PREF CB
SUBJECT: ICRC'S ROLE IN BURMA, SOUTHERN THAILAND, CAMBODIA


Classified By: Political Officer Janet Deutsch for reasons 1.4 (b) and
(d).

1. (U) On August 23, incoming and outgoing heads of the
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Regional
Delegation Bangkok paid a courtesy call on the Charge. The
Delegation's new Head, Christian Brunner, said that he has
already met with Embassy Bangkok officers, and that the ICRC
Head of Operations for Southeast Asia and Pacific Edith
Baeriswyl recently visited the region.

2. (C) Outgoing Head of Regional Delegation Fred Grimm said
that during Baeriswyl's visit, Baeriswyl went to Burma
seeking a resolution to discussions over ICRC's presence in
the country but left without tangible results. Stating that
ICRC headquarters in Geneva will make the ultimate decision,
Brunner believes the organization will probably reduce its
representation in Burma to one Head of Mission staff in
Rangoon to maintain contacts there and to continue an
orthopedic project. They agreed with the observation that
the decrease in staff and activities is a blow to Burma.

3. (C) ICRC coverage of Burma issues will likely shift to a
new sub-regional office to open in Mae Sot, Thailand, with an
ICRC plan to increase its presence along the Thai side of the
Burma-Thailand border. Brunner said the Chiang Mai office
will then become a sub-office to Mae Sot. The Mae Sot office
will be expected to keep contact with Karen and Shan coming
into Thailand, partly through a war wounded program for those
who come for treatment in Thai hospitals, to continue ICRC's
work on IHL promotion.

4. (C) Grimm said he laid the groundwork for ICRC's current
activities in southern Thailand in a meeting with General
Winai Phattiyakul, then Secretary General of the Thailand
National Security Council, who recognized ICRC's role "in
situations like this." The ICRC representatives said they
have a sub-delegation in all but name in southern Thailand
where three expatriate and two Thai staff are posted. They
said the staff have had no direct contact with opposition
groups but believe ICRC interlocutors may be passing messages
along and that all forces have an understanding of ICRC's
neutral and humanitarian role.

5. (U) ICRC gave a generally positive report on its
orthopedic program in Cambodia and on its ability to access
prisons in the country. Grimm stated that ICRC met with
former Police Chief Heng Pov once since his detention by
Cambodian authorities. ICRC has also had access to former
Khmer Rouge prison director Kaing Guek Eav, also known as
Duch, who is now held at the Extraordinary Chambers in the
Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) detention center in Phnom Penh.
The ECCC detention center meets minimal international
standards, Grimm said. The ICRC visitors talked about the
generally bad conditions in Cambodia's prisons, mentioning
the lack of clean water and sanitation.

6. (U) Incoming Head Brunner previously served in Thailand
as ICRC Deputy Head of Delegation from 1997 to 2001. He most
recently served as Head of Delegation Serbia (2005-2007) and
Sierra Leone (2002-2003). Brunner started with the ICRC in
1984 as a Delegate in Iran and this is his thirteenth ICRC
appointment overseas. He arrived in Thailand as Head of
Regional Delegation Bangkok on August 20.
CAMPBELL

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