Cablegate: Burmese Activist's Return to the Gulag?

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





E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) Summary: On September 21, GOB authorities detained a
58-year old Burmese political activist for demonstrating in
front of UNDP offices in Rangoon. U Ohne Thant, who has
served over 13 years in the Burmese political gulag, was
carrying a placard calling for the United Nations to help
implement the elections of 1990. One of several "solo"
demonstrators rounded up this year, U Ohne Thant apparently
linked his protest to a concurrent "long march for freedom"
that led Burmese dissidents from outside Albany to UN
headquarters in New York. End Summary

2. (SBU) On September 21, Burmese Military Intelligence (MI)
agents arrested a lone Burmese demonstrator, U Ohne Thant, in
front of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP)
offices in Rangoon. He was holding a placard written in
English and Burmese calling for the United Nations to assist
Burma in honoring the election results of 1990. Prior to his
arrest, U Ohne Thant had entered the UNDP compound and was
received by the Deputy Resident Representative (DRR), who
offered to accept and forward his materials to UNDP
headquarters. The DRR also advised the protester not to
return to the street, lest he be arrested. U Ohne Thant
refused both suggestions and was subsequently picked up by
MI. Authorities are reportedly holding him for questioning
and will likely sentence him to a minimum of seven years in
violation of Section 5(j), Emergency Provision Act of 1950.

3. (SBU) U Ohne Thant's solo protest may have been linked to
a "long march for freedom" that Burmese activists took on
September 21 from the Grafton Peace Pagoda north of Albany,
New York, to UN Headquarters. He had alerted the media to
his plans and several locally based foreign media stringers
witnessed the event. He is the fourth known "solo"
demonstrator to be arrested in Rangoon during the past year;
MI has rounded up at least three in front of City Hall,
although two of the protesters reportedly suffer from mental

4. (SBU) Comment: U Ohne Thant is a well-known, independent
activist who was first arrested in 1988 for leading strikes
in Kachin State. Following his release in 1995, he was
arrested again in 1997 for distributing political pamphlets
calling for greater human rights and sentenced to seven more
years in jail. He was released from his second term on
October 31, 2003. He is popular with Burmese students and
agitated for prison reforms while serving his earlier
sentences. His decision to go it alone is reportedly based
on a desire to draw attention to human rights issues while
minimizing the human suffering that mass protests would
entail. End comment


© Scoop Media

World Headlines


UN: Pope's Visit To Iraq "A Symbol Of Hope"

The visit by Pope Francis to the northern Iraqi city of Mosul at the weekend will be a symbol of hope and an opportunity to join forces for peace and unity, the UN cultural agency, UNESCO, said on Thursday, ahead of his touchdown in the capital, Baghdad... More>>

Myanmar: Military Must Stop Murdering And Jailing Protestors – Bachelet

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on Thursday said security forces in Myanmar must “halt their vicious crackdown on peaceful protestors,” following another day of deadly violence across the country on Wednesday... More>>

Syria: Economic Decline, Rising Hunger And Surging Humanitarian Needs

Syria’s fragile economy has “suffered multiple shocks” over the past 18 months, with its currency plummeting and joblessness swelling as people struggle to cover their basic needs, the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator told the Security Council ... More>>

Focus On: UN SDGs

Podcast: A UN Top Official’s Inspiring Journey To Leadership

UN Under-Secretary for Global Communications Melissa Fleming speaks to Agnes Kalibata, the Special Envoy to the 2021 Food Systems Summit, about her journey as a woman leader – from growing up as a Rwandan refugee in Uganda to becoming Rwanda’s Minister of Agriculture and now a top official at the United Nations... More>>

UNFCCC: Greater Climate Ambition Urged As Initial NDC Synthesis Report Is Published

UN Climate Change today published the Initial NDC Synthesis Report, showing nations must redouble efforts and submit stronger, more ambitious national climate action plans in 2021 if they’re to achieve the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global temperature rise by 2°C—ideally 1.5°C—by the end of the century... More>>

2021: Critical Year To ‘reset Our Relationship With Nature’ – UN Chief

During this time of “crisis and fragility”, the UN chief told the United Nations Environment Assembly on Monday that human well-being and prosperity can be vastly improved by prioritizing nature-based solutions. Painting a picture of the turmoil ... More>>