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Cablegate: Supporting Human Rights and Democracy: The U.S.

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 000150

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/BCLTV AND DRL/PHD, DRL/CRA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PREL PGOV BM
SUBJECT: SUPPORTING HUMAN RIGHTS AND DEMOCRACY: THE U.S.
RECORD - BURMA

REF: STATE 333953

BEGIN TEXT: Burma continues to be ruled by a highly
authoritarian military regime that reinforces its firm grip
with a pervasive security apparatus. The Government's
extremely poor human rights record worsens and it continues
to commit numerous serious abuses. Citizens still do not
have the right to change their government. Security forces
continue to commit extrajudicial killings and rape, forcibly
relocate persons, use forced labor, conscript child soldiers,
and has reestablished forced conscription of the civilian
population into militia units. During the year,
government-affiliated agents may have killed possibly as many
as 70 pro-democracy activists. Disappearances continued, and
members of the security forces tortured, beat, and otherwise
abused prisoners and detainees.

The United States, human rights and democracy strategy for
Burma advocates respect for human rights and rapid political
change. We work with like-minded countries to maintain
maximum international pressure on Burma, pending reform.
That pressure includes a new prohibition on financial
services, a new import ban, increased travel sanctions, and
continued investment sanctions; the denial of any form of
aid, with the exceptions of humanitarian assistance and
support for democratic movements; continued public criticism
of the Burmese regime; and public diplomacy programs focused
on democratic values, human rights, and good governance. It
also includes support for international efforts to foster
change in Burma, through the missions of UN Special Envoy
Razali and UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Pinheiro, as
well as the efforts of the International Labor Organization
(ILO), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC),
and other international organizations.

The United States, in coordination with the European Union
(EU) and other states, has imposed numerous sanctions on
Burma. These U.S. sanctions include a ban on all financial
services to Burma; a ban on all imports from Burma; an arms
embargo; a ban on all new U.S. investment in Burma; the
suspension of all bilateral aid, including counternarcotics
assistance; the withdrawal of Generalized System of
Preferences (GSP) privileges; the denial of Overseas Private
Investment Corporation (OPIC) and EXIMBANK programs; visa
restrictions on Burma's senior government officials; and
opposition to all new lending or grant programs by the
international financial institutions. And since 1990, we
have maintained our representation in Burma at the Charg
d'Affaires level.

Burma continues to be hostile to all forms of political
opposition. The Government cracked down severely on the main
opposition party in May 2003, killing possibly as many as 70
democracy supporters, and shuttering all 300 opposition party
offices in Burma. The U.S. encourages UN efforts to free the
approximately 150 incarcerated on May 30, as well as the
pre-existing 1,300 political prisoners in Burma. During
travels throughout Burma, U.S. officials have also personally
interviewed victims of political violence and facilitated
access for other such U.S. investigations into human rights
abuses. Furthermore, the USG maintains frequent contacts with
influential members of the political opposition regarding
initiatives that will affect the struggle for democracy in
Burma.

The U.S. Government promotes the rule of law and democracy by
providing information exchange and civic education programs
on human rights, democratic values, and governance issues. In
2003, the U.S. dedicated over $200,000 to speaker programs,
exchange programs, publications, and other information
outreach. Furthermore, the USG's direct teaching program
offers tuition waivers worth $9,555 to 35 students denied the
opportunity to study because of their political beliefs. In
addition, we provided $4.0 million in support of the Burmese
democratic opposition in Fiscal Year (FY) 2002. These funds
are programmed through the National Endowment for Democracy
(NED) and others and focus on democracy and capacity-building
activities and on the collection and dissemination of
information on democracy and human rights.

The U.S. urged the Burmese regime, which does not allow
domestic human rights groups to function independently and is
hostile to outside scrutiny of its human rights record, to
accept visits by international human rights organizations.
Amnesty International completed its second visit to Burma in
2003.

The U.S. has co-sponsored annual resolutions at the UN
General Assembly and the UN Commission on Human Rights that
highlight and draw international attention to the continued
human rights violations in Burma. The 2003 UNGA resolution
adopted by consensus calls for an independent investigation
of the May 2003 attack on the democratic opposition.

The U.S. continued to encourage the GOB to allow workers'
rights and unions and to discontinue its use of forced labor.
We support the continuation of a liaison office of the ILO
in Burma which made efforts to bring the Government into
compliance with its international labor obligations.

The U.S. approved $104,000 in FY04 funding for a trafficking
in persons program to raise awareness among Burmese
vulnerable to Burma-to-Thailand trafficking, and to support
anti-trafficking efforts of local NGOs. END TEXT.
Martinez

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