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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
09RANGOON342
2009-06-09 06:49:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Rangoon
Cable title:  

BURMA: MIXED NLD MESSAGES ON DIALOGUE

Tags:   PGOV  PREL  PHUM  BM 
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VZCZCXRO7406
PP RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH RUEHTRO
DE RUEHGO #0342/01 1600649
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 090649Z JUN 09
FM AMEMBASSY RANGOON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9084
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE
RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 2036
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 5511
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 9107
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 6684
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 4494
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 2487
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 RANGOON 000342 

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP AND IO; PACOM FOR FPA

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/08/2019
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM BM
SUBJECT: BURMA: MIXED NLD MESSAGES ON DIALOGUE

REF: A. RANGOON 327

B. RANGOON 254

RANGOON 00000342 001.14 OF 003


Classified By: Political Officer Sean K. O'Neill for Reasons 1.4 (b) &
(d)

Summary
-------

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 RANGOON 000342

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP AND IO; PACOM FOR FPA

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/08/2019
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM BM
SUBJECT: BURMA: MIXED NLD MESSAGES ON DIALOGUE

REF: A. RANGOON 327

B. RANGOON 254

RANGOON 00000342 001.14 OF 003


Classified By: Political Officer Sean K. O'Neill for Reasons 1.4 (b) &
(d)

Summary
--------------


1. (C) On June 8, Charge met with National League for
Democracy (NLD) Central Executive Committee (CEC) members
Khin Maung Swe, U Nyunt Wai, and U Than Tun to discuss
questions posed by Labor Minister (also Relations with Aung
San Suu Kyi (ASSK) Minister) Major General Aung Kyi in
response to an NLD message, conveyed by Charge, of interest
in dialogue. The Minister had asked what the NLD would view
as the appropriate level for initiating dialogue. The
meeting made obvious that NLD leaders have multiple views on
the questions of whether and how to engage with the regime.
U Nyunt Wai prefers the NLD to talk with senior military
officers, such as Vice Senior General Maung Aye. He insists
a public announcement of lofty goals is essential. Khin
Maung Swe and Than Tun seemed to think a military officer
with connections to the top is key, regardless of level.
Khin Maung Swe indicated there may be additional conversation
in the NLD's CEC about the public announcement idea. All
agreed that discussion of dialogue should not be allowed to
draw attention away from the regime's treatment of ASSK.


2. (C) U Nyunt Wai confirmed reports in the state-run New
Light of Myanmar newspaper that on June 4 and 5 authorities
summoned several NLD members, including three CEC members, to
warn them against making statements critical of the ASSK
trial. End Summary.

NLD Uncles Apparently Divided Over Engagement
--------------


3. (C) On June 8, Charge met with NLD CEC members Khin Maung
Swe, U Nyunt Wai, and U Than Tun to discuss possibilities for
dialogue with the regime. Khin Maung Swe had earlier asked
the Charge to convey to authorities the NLD's interest in
unconditional dialogue about all issues. In a May 29 meeting
with the CDA, Minister Aung Kyi queried what the NLD would
view as the appropriate level for such dialogue (ref A).

Over the weekend, Khin Maung Swe sent Charge a letter with an
enigmatic response. Charge requested a meeting to follow up.
In the conversation, it was apparent CEC members have
varying views on whether and how to engage with the regime.

Nyunt Wai and the Hard Line
--------------


4. (C) Uncles U Nyunt Wai and U Than Tun first appeared. U
Nyunt Wai indicated dialogue would not have to begin at the
top level, but he believes a public announcement would be
essential to highlight that the dialogue concerns the
political future. He stressed that he strongly prefers the
NLD deal only with senior military officers in the chain of
command, such as Vice Senior General Maung Aye, and not Labor
Minister Aung Kyi, who is no longer in the military chain of
command. Nyunt Wai insisted both sides would have to agree
talks would eventually involve NLD General Secretary Aung San
Suu Kyi and Senior General Than Shwe, since they are the key
decision makers.


5. (C) Nyunt Wai appeared generally skeptical of further
dialogue with Aung Kyi, pointing out that the regime liaison
has engaged in dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi before, but
that nothing substantive has come of those talks. Nyunt Wai
said "it doesn't appear the SPDC has a serious plan or
approach to dialogue" and added that before the NLD decides
to engage again, the NLD should be sure the regime is serious
about an open, genuine, political dialogue.

Enter a More Moderate Khin Maung Swe

RANGOON 00000342 002.3 OF 003


--------------


6. (C) Khin Maung Swe joined the conversation a short while
later, heard what had been said, left briefly to consult with
someone, then returned and suggested a dialogue could
commence between the CEC and a regime official "at the
colonel level." Khin Maung Swe and fellow CEC member Than
Tun seemed in agreement that a "responsible" military officer
with connections to the top is key, regardless of rank. Khin
Maung Swe indicated there may be additional CEC conversation
about whether the beginnings of dialogue would have to be
publicly announced.


7. (C) Khin Maung Swe told Charge all CEC members welcome
dialogue in principle and would likely designate himself and
U Than Tun as lead negotiators. Like U Nyunt Wai, he
stressed dialogue should be substantive and not a propaganda
tool for the regime to distract the world from its treatment
of ASSK. Khin Maung Swe said, "In the end, we want an
ongoing dialogue, not a one off." The goal is to narrow the
gap between the NLD's Shwegondaing Declaration (ref B) and
the regime's constitution. He noted at one point that a
mediator might be useful in achieving progress and suggested
the Charge might be appropriate. Charge noted that a neutral
facilitator can sometimes be useful but suggested the U.S.
Chief of Mission may not be perceived as the best choice.

Win Tin's View
--------------


8. (C) In a June 9 meeting with Poloff on a separate matter,
CEC member Win Tin stressed that the CEC is united in its
desire to engage in substantive dialogue, but acknowledged
there is disagreement over how best to approach any
resumption of talks. Win Tin commented that Khin Maung Swe
does not want to take too hard a line - possibly out of a
desire to avoid more prison time - and would be more willing
than others to accept any regime willingness to talk at face
value. Other CEC members, such as Nyunt Wai, are more
skeptical of the GOB's motives and worry the regime would use
new talks as a propaganda tool or a way to marginalize Aung
San Suu Kyi. As a result, Win Tin said the CEC would likely
continue to debate the timing and nature of any resumption of
dialogue.


9. (C) Win Tin said he shares Nyunt Wai's concerns and also
believes that any profession of interest by the regime to
return to dialogue be "appropriate and sincere." When asked
to clarify, Win Tin stressed that the GOB should approach the
CEC or Aung San Suu Kyi directly, rather than through
diplomatic channels, such as our Embassy. (Note: Charge and
Poloff reminded all the CEC members we met that the Embassy
is not conveying a regime offer to engage in dialogue, but
rather relaying a hypothetical question from Aung Kyi about
the level of any possible dialogue, given that a CEC member,
reportedly speaking on behalf of NLD Chair Aung Shwe, asked
Charge to convey a message to the regime of NLD willingness
to engage.) In the end, Win Tin lamented, "We are David
without a slingshot, so we must maintain our dignity and
insist the regime deal with us directly and with respect
before entering into dialogue."


Regime Summons and Warns NLD Members
--------------


10. (C) U Nyunt Wai confirmed reports in the state-run New
Light of Myanmar newspaper that on June 4 and 5, authorities
summoned several NLD members, including three CEC members, to
warn them against making statements critical of the ASSK
trial. Nyunt Wai said that on June 5, Police Special Branch
Colonel Win Naing Tun warned him and CEC members U Than Tun
and U Hla Pe that a June 2 statement by NLD youth criticizing
the trial constituted a violation of Burmese law. The SB
Colonel then asked the three CEC members to sign a document
acknowledging that the CEC had approved the NLD youth

RANGOON 00000342 003.3 OF 003


announcement and that they understood it was a violation of
Burmese law. Nyunt Wai said, in the CEC view, they were
merely signing that they acknowledged the regime view. U
Nyunt Wai commented that authorities clearly intended the
meeting to be a threat, but stressed he and his colleagues
refuse to be intimidated. NLD spokesman Nyan Win confirmed
that on June 4, authorities also summoned four NLD youth - U
Hla Thein, U Myo Myunt, U Hla Oo, and U Aye Tun - similarly
to warn them about their actions, and to obtain a statement
shifting ultimate responsibility to the Uncles.

Comment
--------------


11. (C) It appears to us unlikely that a productive dialogue
between the regime and the NLD is possible in the current
climate of intense suspicion, with a history of each side
thinking the other has been insincere. Aung San Suu Kyi's
ongoing detention is also a major stumbling block -- both
because it poisons the environment and because without her
leadership, the CEC is not apt to make any bold moves.
Nonetheless, Charge has undertaken to fulfill the CEC's
initial request to convey messages and regime responses. In
doing so, Charge has also encouraged both sides not to focus
on reasons why not to talk, but instead to start talking,
even if pessimistic about outcomes, since one never knows
until one engages what results might be achievable. This
week's discussions with a variety of CEC members suggest that
any broad-based NLD interest in dialogue is, in the minds of
several CEC members, overwhelmed by doubts when it comes to
actually contemplating how such a dialogue might unfold.
DINGER