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Cablegate: Response - Following Up On the Activists For

VZCZCXRO3761
PP RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHBK #1364 1230823
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 020823Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2910
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RUEHCHI/AMCONSUL CHIANG MAI 5202

UNCLAS BANGKOK 001364

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR DRL/SEA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PREL TH BM
SUBJECT: RESPONSE - FOLLOWING UP ON THE ACTIVISTS FOR
DEMOCRACY AND DISSIDENTS OUTREACH REQUEST

REF: A. STATE 44903
B. BANGKOK 1327
C. BANGKOK 1314
D. BANGKOK 835
E. BANGKOK 340
F. BANGKOK 258
G. BANGKOK 228
H. CHIANG MAI 21
I. CHIANG MAI 65
J. CHIANG MAI 63
K. CHIANG MAI 43
L. CHIANG MAI 10
M. 07 BANGKOK 5731
N. 07 BANGKOK 5314
O. 07 BANGKOK 5224
P. 07 BANGKOK 5151
Q. 07 CHIANG MAI 179
R. 07 CHIANG MAI 169
S. 07 CHIANG MAI 165

1. (U) Embassy Bangkok and Consulate General Chiang Mai have
maintained regular contact with Burmese democracy and human
rights activists living in Thailand since they first began
escaping to Thailand in the late 1980s. With an estimated
200 Burma democracy movement organizations working in
Kanchanaburi, Tak, Mae Hong Son, Chiang Mai, and Chiang Rai
provinces, as well as Bangkok, the Ambassador and other
mission officials make a point of personally meeting these
dissidents and democracy activists to demonstrate the USG's
commitment to advancing freedom and democracy. In addition,
the Ambassador and his staff frequently arrange for and
accompany senior officials from Washington -- up to the
Assistant Secretary level -- to meetings with a broad range
of Burmese exiles. Based in Thailand, the Burmese exile
media plays an important role in countering the propaganda
broadcast by Burma's state controlled media and promoting
dialogue about Burma's political situation. Recognizing
this, the Ambassador and other mission officials offer
interviews and organize briefings for the exile media,
including events with Rangoon's Chief of Mission when they
are in Bangkok.

2. (U) In November 2007, the Ambassador hosted a meeting
between A/S Silverberg and leaders from a Burmese women's
organization, numerous political activists, and the exile
media. In December 2007, the Ambassador helped arrange a
unique opportunity for the First Lady to speak with world
renowned health care worker and Burma activist Dr. Cynthia
Maung via video conference, which was covered by local and
international press based in Washington and Bangkok. Later
that same month the Ambassador gave an exclusive interview to
the widely acclaimed Burmese exile news outlet The Irrawaddy.
In January 2008 the Ambassador held a roundtable discussion
with several leading activists in Chiang Mai in order to
exchange views about the prospects for democratic transition
in Burma.

3. (U) The Ambassador continues to encourage the RTG to
share Thailand's own democratic experiences with Burma's
leaders. In meetings with government officials, the
Ambassador also recognizes the RTG's tacit support of the
activists' work that is largely based in Thailand and the
Thai government's willingness to maintain
substantial refugee camps for the thousands of ethnic
minorities fleeing fighting in Burma.

4. (U) For detailed reports of these meetings and events,
please see reftels B - S.

5. (U) This cable was coordinated with Consulate General
Chiang Mai.
JOHN

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