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Cablegate: Father Ly Indicted; Do Nam Hai Quits

VZCZCXRO8845
PP RUEHDT RUEHPB
DE RUEHHM #0248/01 0781042
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 191042Z MAR 07
FM AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2234
INFO RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY 2408
RUEHHI/AMEMBASSY HANOI PRIORITY 1596
RUCNARF/ASEAN REGIONAL FORUM COLLECTIVE
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HO CHI MINH CITY 000248

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM SOCI PREL PGOV KIRF PREF VM
SUBJECT: FATHER LY INDICTED; DO NAM HAI QUITS

REF: A. HCMC 225; B) HCMC 204 AND PREVIOUS; C) HANOI 468

B. AND PREVIOUS

HO CHI MIN 00000248 001.2 OF 002


1. (SBU) Summary: Hue-based dissident Father Phan Van Loi
confirmed as authentic Internet reports that Hue
authorities have indicted Father Nguyen Van Ly and four
others for "propagandizing against the government." In
HCMC, political activist Do Nam Hai told us he has ended
his pro-democracy activism in the face of severe pressure
on his family and the threat of his imminent prosecution.
Hai's withdrawal from the pro-democracy movement, Father
Ly's arrest and the detention of over 20 other key
grassroots pro-democracy activists in HCMC and elsewhere
means that, for all intents and purposes, the GVN has
suppressed the grassroots dissident movement that briefly
emerged in the south in 2006. End Summary.

Father Ly Formally Indicted
---------------------------

2. (SBU) On March 19, we spoke by phone with Hue-based
activist Father Phan Van Loi, who confirmed the
authenticity of documents posted on overseas dissident
websites purporting to be the police report and indictment
papers against Father Nguyen Van Ly. Also indicted were
Vietnam Progression Party (VPP) representatives Nguyen
Phong, Nguyen Binh Thanh, Hoang Thi Anh Dao and Le Thi Le
Hang. The five were indicted based on Article 88 of
Vietnam's Criminal Code, which outlaws "activities to
propagandize against the State."

3. (SBU) Father Loi said that the documents assert that
Father Ly coordinated and disseminated anti-government
propaganda and "lured others into anti-government
activities." The police report also noted that Father Ly
paid associates a monthly allowance to carry out "political
activities," such as posting materials on the Internet or
purchasing cell phone SIM cards on his behalf. According
to the Internet report, the police recommended that Ly
receive a tough punishment because of his "provocative and
uncooperative behavior" during the investigation.

4. (SBU) Hue authorities recommended lenient treatment of
the four VPP members because of their cooperation during
the investigation. The police noted that Nguyen Phong, the
VPP's senior-most representative, founded the VPP on Ly's
instructions. The police report also notes that detained
Hanoi-based lawyer Le Thi Cong Nhan also was a member of
the VPP and recommends that Hanoi police reflect that fact
in its investigation against her. Hue police identified
Hong Trung as a hitherto unknown VPP member in the Central
Highlands province of Gia Lai and recommended police action
against him as well.

Do Nam Hai Finally Breaks
-------------------------

5. (SBU) Separately on March 19, we also spoke with HCMC-
based dissident Do Nam Hai (strictly protect), regarding
Internet reports that he had ended his involvement in
dissident activities. Hai told us that, over the past
week, the police had "held his family hostage" to pressure
him to renounce his activism. The situation came to a head
on March 16, when he was again summoned to his district
police station for interrogation. Three hours later,
police brought his father, his older sister and his
daughter to the station and announced that the authorities
had a prosecution indictment ready against Hai. The police
claimed that they had been holding back for "humanitarian
reasons" and wanted to give Hai a "last chance" to avoid
"killing" his 82-year-old mother who suffers from heart
problems.

6. (SBU) Hai said that, following the police announcement,
his family members started to cry and to beg him to follow
police advice. Hai blasted the police tactic as
"malicious" and "disgusting," but told us he was afraid
that his mother would indeed die were he to be arrested, so
he relented. At first, police asked him to write a letter
committing to drop his political activism, which Hai agreed
to do. However, later, the police demanded him to write a
more expansive letter acknowledging that he was guilty of
violating Vietnamese law and begging the GVN for mercy.
After nearly 12 hours in police custody, Hai relented. Hai
asked that the letter not be used to incriminate him, and
asked for a written confirmation from the police. The
police refused.

7. (SBU) According to Hai, he still has to go to working
sessions with the police for the rest of this week to
answer about the documents the police confiscated from his

HO CHI MIN 00000248 002.2 OF 002


house in the past. Hai said he told the police to end its
surveillance and leave him and his family alone; otherwise
he would resume his political activities. Hai still
welcomed interaction with USG officials. Hai also said he
planned to become active in stock trading as a private
investor and financial adviser.

8. (SBU) On March 16, the Alliance for Democracy and Human
Rights for Viet Nam -- the dissident umbrella organization
founded by Ly and Hai -- announced that Father Loi and
HCMC-based Mennonite Pastor Nguyen Hong Quang would replace
Nguyen Phong and Do Nam Hai.

9. (SBU) Comment: As reported reftel, Hai was the author of
the pro-democracy 8406 bloc manifesto and the intellectual
backbone of the new generation of political dissidents.
His forced withdrawal from the pro-democracy movement that
he helped found, along with the detention of Father Ly and
at least 20 other new activists throughout the country
(reftels) means that the GVN has effectively suppressed the
grassroots pro-democracy movement that emerged in southern
and central Vietnam in 2006. A number of aged dissidents
such as Dr. Nguyen Dan Que and Tran Khue are "free," but
under strict surveillance. Although they do not have the
credibility of Do Nam Hai or Ly, it is very possible that
Father Loi and Pastor Quang -- long-term irritants for the
GVN in their own right -- also will be detained or face
tougher pressure for their political activism.

10. (SBU) Comment continued: Despite police "goodwill," Do
Nam Hai could still be indicted. In mid-February, VPP
activist Nguyen Phong was detained briefly and forced to
write a letter formally disbanding his party. Nonetheless,
a month later he and his other VPP colleagues were indicted
along with Father Ly.
WINNICK

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