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Cablegate: Burma -- Activists Call for Regional Conference In

VZCZCXRO4162
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHJA #3420/01 3520715
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 180715Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY JAKARTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7435
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS PRIORITY
RUEHDT/AMEMBASSY DILI 0909
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1783
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 1328
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON 2172
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 4580
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 1487
RUEHPT/AMCONSUL PERTH 0497
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 JAKARTA 003420

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP, EAP/PD (FOR LNEIGHBORS) EAP/MTS,
EAP/MLS (COPE), EAP/RSP,
G (CURRIE)
NSC FOR EPHU

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: BM ID PGOV PREL EAID
SUBJECT: BURMA -- ACTIVISTS CALL FOR REGIONAL CONFERENCE IN
JAKARTA

REF: A. JAKARTA 3297 B. JAKARTA 2855

JAKARTA 00003420 001.2 OF 002


1. (U) This message is Sensitive but Unclassified -- Please
handle accordingly. It also contains an Action Request in
Para 7.

2. (SBU) SUMMARY: A group of approximately 40 Indonesian
civil society, labor, and media representatives gathered at
Pol/C's residence on December 17 to discuss ways forward in
pressing--on the national and regional levels--for democratic
change in Burma. Coalescing around the idea of civil society
hosting a regional conference on Burma in Jakarta early next
year, the group also proposed lobbying against the ASEAN
Charter and holding anti-Burma regime demonstrations.
Mission is planning further meetings down the line as we
continue to encourage Indonesian activism regarding Burma.
END SUMMARY.

MEETING RE BURMA

3. (SBU) On December 17, Pol/C hosted at San Francisco House
roughly 40 civil society, labor, religious, media, and
political leaders, as well as third country diplomats. DCM,
Management Counselor and PAO also participated in the
meeting, which was a follow-up to the October gathering at
DCM's Residence (ref B). The focus of the meeting was on
next steps that Indonesian civil society can take on the
national and regional levels to try to effect change in
Burma. In his brief remarks, Pol/C underscored the brutal
events that transpired--and continued to transpire--in Burma.
Pol/C underlined the importance of even small--seemingly
symbolic--measures in these times, quoting Robert F.
Kennedy's statement that "each time a man or a woman stands
up for an idea, or acts to improve the lot of others, or
strikes out against injustice, he or she sends forth a tiny
ripple of hope."

4. (SBU) DepPol/C then briefly discussed the role of civil
society as an agent of transformative change. In a
discussion led by the Library of Congress (LOC) Regional
Director, Indonesian members of the group discussed their
experiences in 1998 when students, religious leaders,
journalists, and civil society activists galvanized the
democracy movement, contributing to the collapse of the
Suharto regime.

PROPOSAL FOR A REGIONAL CONFERENCE

5. (SBU) During the lively group discussion and over coffee
in smaller groups, guests proposed a wide range of practical
options that Indonesian civil society might undertake to try
to influence the situation in Burma. Several
representatives--to wide agreement among the group--expressed
strong interest in helping to organize a regional conference
on Burma in Jakarta. They agreed that the U.S. is very
important in facilitating cohesive action regarding Burma as
the world's most influential nation, but cautioned that a
conference should also heavily involve Indonesian civil
society in order to be credible on the national and regional
levels. Several guests--including from one of Indonesia's
largest youth Islamic organizations, Mohammadiyah Youth--want
to meet again soon to plan further steps towards a
conference.

SOME OTHER IDEAS

6. (SBU) Besides the conference, guests proposed other
immediate steps civil society can take, such as:

--Lobbying both the Indonesian legislature and ASEAN to
oppose ratification of the ASEAN Charter given that Burma
does not live up to democracy and human rights standards, and
there is no mechanism to enforce the standards;

--Labor unions are planning a mass demonstration in front of
the Burmese Embassy in Jakarta in January 2008 while

JAKARTA 00003420 002.2 OF 002


discussing a possible boycott of products from Burma;

--The Southeast Asia Press Alliance (SEAPA) intends to
dedicate 2008 to articles on Burma and the repression there;
and,

-- The Canadian Pol/C recommended that participants look into
ways to involve the Indonesian business community in
Burma-related efforts.

ACTION REQUEST

7. (SBU) Mission believes that this meeting--and the earlier
one held here in October--underscore Indonesian civil
society's strong and abiding interest in the situation in
Burma and its desire to try to help. We believe, however,
that due to disorganization and lack of capacity that these
organizations and their representatives will need more than a
nudge from Washington as they try to get organized to take
concrete action. In that light, we believe that the idea of
a regional conference to be held in Jakarta some time in
early 2008 makes sense and we urge Washington to review the
idea in line with previous discussions (ref A). END ACTION
REQUEST.

HUME

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