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Cablegate: Spdc Strikes Conciliatory Tone in Second Briefing

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 RANGOON 000682

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP AND DRL
USMISSION NEW YORK FOR AMBASSADOR TWINING
CDR USPACOM FOR FPA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL KPAO BM ASSK NLD
SUBJECT: SPDC STRIKES CONCILIATORY TONE IN SECOND BRIEFING
ON MAY 30 AMBUSH

REF: RANGOON 0647

1. SUMMARY: In a June 10 briefing for journalists and
diplomats following UN Special Envoy Razali's departure from
Rangoon, the Foreign Ministry provided more details of the
May 30 ambush of Aung San Suu Kyi's (ASSK) motorcade near
Depeyin and side-pedaled on several issues connected to the
attack. Deputy Foreign Minister Khin Maung Win announced
that an official inquest by the Ministry of Home Affairs is
underway and more details would be forthcoming. The COM
again requested a full accounting of the injured, dead and
detained. She also expressed the expectation that the SPDC
would not merely return to the status quo ante May 30 but
would take concrete steps forward on the path of national
reconciliation. This briefing was unexpectedly conciliatory
indicating that the government is on notice that the issue is
bigger than access to ASSK and the NLD members - they must
try to build some credibility, quickly, if they expect anyone
to believe their "commitment to national reconciliation."
End Summary.

2. DeputyFonMin (DFM) Khin Maung Win reiterated that the
SPDC regarded the events of May 30 as "most unfortunate" and
that the "safe custody" measures for ASSK are temporary and
will be lifted "as soon as the situation returns to normal."
He said Special Envoy Razali was granted the "special
gesture" of a meeting with ASSK for two reasons: to show
their continuing cooperation with the United Nations, and
because of the SPDC's trust in confidence in Mr. Razali
himself.

3. He announced that the Ministry of Home Affairs had opened
an official inquest into the May 30 "incident." Preliminary
investigations show that violence erupted when ASSK's convoy
attempted to "plow through a crowd blocking the road." He
made much out of the fact that this occurred late at night in
"an area with no public lighting, there was much confusion,
and things got out of hand." (Note: The government appears
to be developing a new approach to describing the situation.
Unlike the tone of certainty accompanying the statements of
the last press briefing - "There were 5000 people gathered.
... There were no military or police present at the time of
the attack. ... Only fifty were injured. ... No arrests were
made - the government is emphasizing uncertainty, the
confusion and dark, and that the inquest is "ongoing" and
more details may yet be uncovered. It gives them more leeway
to retract or contradict statements made earlier. End Note.)

4. The DFM "clarified" several statements made at the June 3
briefing (Reftel). He was careful to say, instead of "50
injured" that 48 people presented themselves at the hospital
for treatment, leaving the possibility that there were more
injured who did not. In response to a question about
arrests, he said that no one had been "arrested per se" but
that, "as they say in the British newspapers, several people
are helping us with our inquiries."

5. He reiterated that both Aung San Suu Kyi and Tin Oo were
not hurt in what the SPDC is now calling "a melee" instead of
an "incident."

6. Diplomats present reiterated their desire to have access
to ASSK and Tin Oo. The COM requested that the government
provide a full accounting, including names of the dead and
injured at the scene. The DFM replied that he would try to
comply. She also expressed the expectation that SPDC would
demonstrate their stated commitment to the national
reconciliation process not merely by releasing ASSK and other
detainees and reopening the NLD offices, but going forward
with concrete steps to bring about national reconciliation.
The DFM said he shared that sentiment, as "we do not want to
return to confrontation."

7. Comment: This briefing was unexpectedly conciliatory.
However, the assembled dip corps expressed disappointment
that the government continues to stonewall on the issue of
access to ASSK and the NLD leadership, and on the issue of
the conditions and location of their detention. But it
appears that the government is starting to realize that
attacking and accusing the NLD of provoking the clash, or
claiming an international smear campaign against the SPDC,
won't wash. They are also on notice that the issue is bigger
than access to ASSK and the NLD members - they must try to
build some credibility, quickly, if they expect anyone to
believe their "commitment to national reconciliation". End
Comment.
Martinez

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