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Cablegate: Embassy Rangoon's Nomination for the 2010

VZCZCXRO7478
PP RUEHCHI
DE RUEHGO #0791/01 3380838
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 040838Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY RANGOON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9655
INFO RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK 3107
RUEHCHI/AMCONSUL CHIANG MAI 2372

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 RANGOON 000791

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP/MLS AND S/GWI

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PHUM KPAO KWMN BM
SUBJECT: EMBASSY RANGOON'S NOMINATION FOR THE 2010
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN OF COURAGE AWARD

REF: SECSTATE 111471

Nomination and Justification
----------------------------

1. (SBU) Embassy Rangoon nominates Burmese HIV/AIDS
activist Phyu Phyu Thin for the 2010 Secretary's Award for
International Women of Courage. Phyu Phyu Thin demonstrates
great courage and leadership and has overcome tremendous
obstacles in advancing the cause of HIV/AIDS awareness and
providing treatment and care to Burma's under-served
HIV-positive population, which includes many women and
children.

2. (SBU) Phyu Phyu Thin, a long-time member of the
opposition National League for Democracy (NLD), has been a
leader in the fight against HIV/AIDS since NLD leader Aung
San Suu Kyi nominated her to take part in a United Nations
training program on HIV in 2002. Since then, Phyu Phyu Thin
has worked tirelessly to address HIV/AIDS in Burma, founding
an organization known as "Friends of the Red Ribbon" to
establish hospices for victims of the disease, conduct
HIV/AIDS awareness and testing campaigns, and secure and
distribute life-saving anti-retroviral treatments. Working
solely with private Burmese donations, Phyu Phyu Thin serves
approximately 3,000 HIV-positive patients, including orphans
and growing numbers of women. She supervises nearly 60 peer
educators who educate their communities how to stem the
spread of the disease.

3. (SBU) Phyu Phyu Thin faces tremendous obstacles in her
work, including scarce resources, widespread ignorance about
the HIV/AIDS problem, and discrimination based on her
political affiliation. There are an estimated 336,000
HIV-positive people in Burma, which is one of the poorest
countries in the region. Government funding for treatment
programs is inadequate and the availability of donor support
for anti-retroviral treatments is insufficient to meet the
need. For many years public education about HIV/AIDS was
almost non-existent.

4. (SBU) As a member of the NLD, Phyu Phyu Thin has
encountered harassment, intimidation, and even arrest at the
hands of Burma's military regime. In 2000, she and several
of her colleagues were arrested and held for over four months
after gathering at a Rangoon train station to bid farewell to
Aung San Suu Kyi, who was taking a trip to upper Burma. In
2002 and 2003, Phyu Phyu Thin launched an HIV awareness
campaign in Rangoon, but was soon pressured to stop by the
regime. For several months following the peaceful
pro-democracy protests in September 2007, Phyu Phyu Thin was
forced into hiding after the regime allegedly sought her
arrest. Many of Phyu Phyu Thin's colleagues remain in
detention, including Aung San Suu Kyi, who first encouraged
her to take up HIV/AIDS as a cause. Furthermore, the GOB
frequently questions Phyu Phyu Thin's peer educators and
demands to check the paperwork of her patients.

5. (SBU) Phyu Phyu Thin's political affiliation with the
NLD, a registered political party, precludes her from
receiving funds from foreign government donors. Furthermore,
some NGOs are hesitant to assist her patients for fear that
assisting those connected to the NLD will result in GOB
harassment. In the face of these significant obstacles, Phyu
Phyu Thin has demonstrated courage, poise, and an unwavering
commitment to cause of HIV/AIDS awareness and treatment. She
has overcome political, economic, and social obstacles to her
mission and in so doing has inspired many others to join the
cause. As one of the recipients of her assistance observed
during a World AIDS Day ceremony, "if not for the NLD, if not
for Phyu Phyu Thin, no one would care for us, no one would do
anything for us." We strongly recommend Phyu Phyu Thin for
this award as an exemplary woman of courage.

6. (SBU) Phyu Phyu Thin is aware of and has consented to her
nomination for this award.

Biographical Details
--------------------

7. (SBU) Phyu Phyu Thin's biographical details are as
follows:

- Name: Phyu Phyu Thin (note: Burmese names cannot be broken
into separate parts, so her name must always be read and
written as a whole);

- Job Title: HIV/AIDS activist, "Friends of the Red Ribbon"
director, and National League for Democracy member;

RANGOON 00000791 002 OF 002

- Date of Birth: 23 December 1971;

- Country of Birth: Burma;

- Citizenship: Burma;

- Address: Withheld for security purposes; nominee can be
contacted via Embassy Rangoon;

- Telephone: Withheld for security purposes; nominee can be
contacted via Embassy Rangoon;

- E-mail: Withheld for security purposes; nominee can be
contacted via Embassy Rangoon;

- Passport number: nominee does not have a passport; it is
possible the GOB, for political reasons, will not issue her a
passport to travel abroad;

- Language: Burmese, limited English (she understands
English but has a very limited speaking ability.)

8. (SBU) Post POC for this award nomination is
Political/Economic Chief Jennifer Harhigh; unclassified
e-mail harhighja@state.gov; class e-mail
harhighja@state.sgov.gov.
VAJDA

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