Cablegate: Capacity-Building Program for Rising Ethnic Party

Published: Fri 12 Nov 2004 02:44 AM
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: Embassy Rangoon's Public Affairs Section
(PAS) recently initiated a leadership capacity building
program (called the "Global English" Program) for 23
representatives from nine ethnic democratic political
parties. The program's nine-month curriculum, targeted at
rising or current party leaders and modeled on the NLD-
oriented Professional Development Program (PDP), includes
the study of democracy and human rights, economic
development and globalization, social indicators, gender,
environment, and the role of international organizations.
The "Global English" Program is funded through an ESF grant
to the instructor of the PDP program. End Summary.
Ethnic PDP?
2. (SBU) Recognizing both the success of the PDP program
with rising members of the NLD and the lack of similar
training opportunities for ethnic democratic political
parties, Embassy Rangoon in the summer of 2004 began to
explore the possibility of offering a PDP-style program to
ethnic political parties extant during the 1990 elections
and still currently dedicated to non-violent democratic
change in Burma. Given the USG's support for democratic
reform in Burma, this program would necessarily exclude
participation from ethnic minority-based armed opposition
groups, whether on cease-fire or not, and those political
parties aligned with the SPDC.
3. (SBU) Dubbed the "Global English" Program (to enable the
participants to blend in with the American Center's hundreds
of regular English students), this initiative targets rising
or current ethnic party leaders and will cover democracy and
human rights, economic development and globalization, social
indicators, gender, environment, and the role of
international organizations, among other subjects. In
collaboration with PAS Rangoon, the program coordinator will
also recruit relevant foreign experts to lecture to program
participants. Similar to the PDP program, the objective of
the "Global English" Program is to provide rising ethnic
leaders with the knowledge and skills to better advance
their democratic goals in both local and international
contexts. The program will be funded by an ESF grant
awarded directly to the instructor of the PDP course.
Ethnic groups enthusiastic to learn
4. (SBU) In early September, Embassy officers briefed
leaders of 15 ethnic democratic political parties about the
program. Notably, only two of the 15 parties attending the
briefing (the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy and
Shan State Kokang Democratic Party) have legal standing with
the Burmese government. The others have been deregistered
by the military regime. As a result, some of the ethnic
parties have only minimally functioning party structures.
5. (SBU) The ethnic party response to Embassy solicitation
to participate in the program was overwhelming; post
interviewed 50 candidates from 11 ethnic democratic parties
during late September and early October. PAS Rangoon
screened candidates for their potential or current
leadership roles in their respective parties and their
English-speaking ability. To the extent possible given the
sometimes minimal qualifications of individual candidates,
we tried to ensure that each ethnic group (if not each
ethnic political party) was represented in the program. In
fact, because of the strong interest in the program, PAS
Rangoon organized two sections, dividing chosen participants
into senior leadership and junior party member groups.
6. (SBU) A total of 23 candidates from the following nine
ethnic political parties (number of individual party
participants in parenthesis) are currently participating in
the "Global English" Program: Shan Nationalities League for
Democracy (2); Arakan League for Democracy (4); Kachin State
National Congress for Democracy (1); Chin National League
for Democracy (3); Kayin (Karen) National Congress for
Democracy (2); Mon National Democratic Front (3); National
Democratic Party for Human Rights (Rohingya) (4); United
Nationalities League for Democracy (mixed ethnic) (2); and
Zomi (Chin) National Congress (2).
7. (SBU) Program participants range in rank from chairman
and general secretary to youth wing leader to general
member. Though PAS Rangoon actively encouraged ethnic
parties to nominate women for the program, only three women,
one a Muslim, are currently participating.
8. (SBU) Attendees have participated enthusiastically in
initial class sessions, which began in mid-October, and in
fact, post continues to receive additional nominations for
the program. We hope that such enthusiasm continues over
time, and that the "Global English" Program will avoid many
of the participation restraints that affected NLD PDP
students. In that context, the October 19 removal of PM
Khin Nyunt and the further consolidation of power by Senior
General Than Shwe has to date had no effect on participant
attendance to the "Global English" course.
9. (U) In parallel with the ongoing coursework, PAS Rangoon
plans to obtain Burmese translations of the classroom texts,
funding this task through a separate grant mechanism. Such
translations would allow for even greater dissemination of
the program's substantive content.
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