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Cablegate: Burma: Opposition Wins Hearts On World Aids Day

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DE RUEHGO #1777 3411020
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
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FM AMEMBASSY RANGOON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5493
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE
RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0063
RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA 4409
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 3653
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RUEHCI/AMCONSUL CALCUTTA 0989
RUEHCN/AMCONSUL CHENGDU 0993
RUDKIA/AMCONSUL CHIANG MAI 0757
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 2966
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0629

UNCLAS RANGOON 001777

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SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MLS; PACOM FOR FPA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM SOCI KHIV BM
SUBJECT: BURMA: OPPOSITION WINS HEARTS ON WORLD AIDS DAY


1. SUMMARY: The National League for Democracy (NLD) and
members of the 88 Generation Students (88GS) used World AIDS
Day to show compassion and care for HIV/AIDS victims and
their families and to help raise greater awareness among the
public. The NLD honored over 100 HIV/AIDS health workers and
HIV/AIDS patients at its Rangoon headquarters. 88GS
volunteers distributed 400,000 HIV/AIDS awareness pamphlets
to the public and donated food to AIDS sufferers in a Rangoon
hospital. There were no reports that authorities tried to
stop any of their activities. END SUMMARY.

2. Both the NLD and the 88GS members conducted HIV/AIDS
activities for the public on World AIDS Day. The NLD has
marked World AIDS Day for several years but this year's event
drew many more participants. The NLD held an open house at
its Rangoon headquarters to honor health workers who assist
HIV/AIDS patients, joined by thirty HIV/AIDS patients and
another seventy family members, double the number they
anticipated. 88GS members told us younger NLD members pushed
to conduct even more extensive HIV/AIDS awareness raising
activities outside of the party headquarters, but the
ever-cautious NLD Uncles insisted on restricting NLD
activities to their Rangoon office.

3. 88GS members marked World AIDS Day for the first time, by
photocopying over 400,000 HIV/AIDS awareness pamphlets and
distributing them in markets, bus stations, and other public
areas in Rangoon and its suburbs. The UNDP office also gave
them additional pamphlets to distribute. The public
willingly accepted the pamphlets, and 88GS reps told us that
local authorities did not attempt to stop or question their
volunteers.

4. Some 88GS members also visited Rangoon's Waybagi Hospital,
a facility the Ministry of Health set aside to treat highly
communicable diseases, including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and
avian influenza. Although the medical superintendent had
previously assured the 88GS members they could visit AIDS
patients, when they arrived, the senior physician would not
let them meet the patients. Instead, the doctor accepted
their food packets and promised to deliver them.

5. 88GS members said that their colleagues also distributed
HIV/AIDS awareness pamphlets at Chauk, Magway Division
(central Burma). They reported that some people in town tore
down their HIV/AIDS posters and questioned the volunteers.
Although local authorities watched carefully, they did not
intervene or arrest any of the activists.

6. COMMENT: The NLD and the 88GS members used World AIDS Day
to demonstrate that their activities reach beyond political
activism and include humanitarian concerns. In the midst of
UNSC debate on Burma and the regime's efforts to discredit
international reports on Burma's dangerous rate of HIV/AIDS
infection, actions by the 88GS and NLD help demonstrate their
concern for the lives of ordinary people and keep the
spotlight on the regime's lack of health care support. END
COMMENT.
VILLAROSA

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