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Cablegate: Burma: Gob Press Conference "Clarifies" Old News

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

291112Z Aug 05

UNCLAS RANGOON 000996

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

STATE FOR EAP/BCLTV; PACOM FOR FPA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PINS BM
SUBJECT: BURMA: GOB PRESS CONFERENCE "CLARIFIES" OLD NEWS

REF: A. RANGOON 989

B. RANGOON 979

1. SUMMARY: The SPDC Information Committee, in an August 28
"press conference" held in Rangoon, declared four opposition
groups "unlawful associations" and again accused
"destabilizing Western countries" of being behind recent
security threats to Burma. In response to a press query, a
GOB official dismissed rumors that Burma's de facto leader,
Senior General Than Shwe had fallen ill and said he is well
and hard at work, blaming the BBC for intentionally
broadcasting "fabricated rumors" designed to destabilize the
SPDC. The GOB also urged the ILO to mend its ways. END
SUMMARY.

2. The GOB held its sixth "press conference" of 2005 on
August 28. Present were the Minister of Information,
Brigadier General Kyaw Hsan; Minister of Home Affairs, Major
General Maung Oo; and representatives of other ministries,
including the Myanmar Police Force. Officials openly blamed
the BBC for intentionally broadcasting "fabricated rumors"
about separatist movements in Shan State and the health of
Senior General Than Shwe in order to destabilize the SPDC.
The officials reported that Than Shwe is well and is hard at
work at the War Office, although he has not made any public
appearances or statements since August 20.

3. The GOB rehashed old news by again raising the names of
various groups and individuals they believe were behind May 7
bombings in Rangoon and the April bombing in Mandalay. They
announced the recent arrests of several alleged conspirators
whom they accuse of having contacts with "external
destructive elements." The Minister of Home Affairs also
announced the official designation of four opposition groups
as "unlawful associations." These groups are: the National
Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB) under
"renegade" Sein Win (a cousin of ASSK); the Federation of
Trade Unions of Burma (FTUB) under "terrorist" Maung Maung;
the All Burma Students Democratic Front (ABSDF); and the Shan
State Army - South (SSA-S) under Colonel Yawd Seuk.

4. The GOB again blamed "Western nations" for financially
supporting opponents of the State Peace and Development
Council (SPDC) with the intent to destabilize the regime. In
response to a question about the International Labor
Organization (ILO), an official stressed that the ILO had
been making trouble for Burma and that government organized
associations (GONGOs) were correct in recently condemning the
ILO.

5. (SBU) COMMENT: This "press conference" brought only old
news and no new details to light, despite recent media
attention to the rumor mill. The SPDC's convoluted efforts
to try to pin blame on the May 7 bombings in Rangoon give the
impression that the GOB still has no clue who was behind
them. Publicly naming four associations "unlawful" is also
nothing new, since several people have already been sentenced
to life in prison for associating with them. The fact they
have officially become illegal, however, may indicate that
the regime intends to crack down even harder on anybody who
has ever had dealings with them. As for Than Shwe, although
the official party line on his health may be unchanged, his
absence from the media will continue to feed the rumor mill.
END COMMENT.
Stoltz

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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