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Cablegate: Distortions in Abuse Case of Central Highlands Ethnic

VZCZCXRO3312
PP RUEHDT RUEHPB
DE RUEHHM #0461/01 1130814
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 230814Z APR 07
FM AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2550
INFO RUEHHI/AMEMBASSY HANOI PRIORITY 1847
RUCNARF/ASEAN REGIONAL FORUM COLLECTIVE
RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY 2746

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HO CHI MINH CITY 000461

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM SOCI PREL PGOV KIRF PREF VM
SUBJECT: DISTORTIONS IN ABUSE CASE OF CENTRAL HIGHLANDS ETHNIC
MINORITY INDIVIDUAL


HO CHI MIN 00000461 001.2 OF 002


1. (SBU) Summary: A number of U.S. groups, including the
Montagnard Foundation, published reports on the Internet
claiming that an ethnic minority woman in the province of
Dak Lak named H'Hlung Nie was badly beaten by police during
interrogation, following the flight of a sister to
Cambodia. These reports also claimed that her husband was
a political prisoner. After interviewing H'Hlung Nie in
private in her home on April 18, the allegations of
physical abuse or her husband jailed for peaceful political
activity do not appear credible. However, Nie apparently
was the victim of an attempted assault by a police officer
which local authorities sought to cover up. We have
pressed senior provincial authorities to investigate the
incident thoroughly and to ensure that the offending
officer is accountable. End Summary.

2. (SBU) During a visit to the Central Highlands province
of Dak Lak, April 16 to 18, HCMC PolOff and RefCord
traveled to the town of Buon Le Da, to meet with H'Hlung
Nie and one of her sisters, to discuss allegations that Nie
was beaten by police during interrogation in her home on
January 22. (Initially there was a heavy plainclothes
police presence inside the home, but after some discussion
we were able to shoo away the "cousins" and "uncles"
without incident.) A press release from the South
Carolina-based Montagnard Foundation alleged that "(three)
security police repeatedly beat Nie's arm very hard" and
that "her arm was severely bruised and battered." The
security police are threatening her with more beatings."
The same press release noted that Nie's husband Y-Phiar
Adrong was a political prisoner who was arrested for
participating in anti-GVN protests in 2001 and 2004 and has
suffered torture in prison. The press release notes that
"his family fears that he will not live long."

3. (SBU) Nie's depiction of the events surrounding that
incident and the reason for her husband's imprisonment are
at odds with information circulating on the Internet. Nie
told us that police began to interview her following the
flight of another sister -- H'Blung -- to Cambodia in
December 2006. Nie first stated that H'Blung left because
the government was "repressing Protestantism." However,
after we pointed out that the government had already
registered the local Protestant congregation before
H'Blung's flight, Nie acknowledged that H'Blung was seeking
to join her husband Y Liem Ksor, who was resettled in the
U.S. after fleeing to Cambodia in 2001/2002.

4. (SBU) Nie told us that her sister H'Blung had made a
previous attempt to flee to Cambodia in October 2005 but
was caught. During this incident, Nie's husband was
implicated as an alien smuggler and sentenced to five years
in prison for attempting to assist H'Blung and possibly
others to flee to Cambodia. Nie told us that her husband
participated in anti-GVN protests in 2001, but not in 2004.
He was interviewed by police many times after the 2001
protest, but was never detained. Nie neither expressed
concern for her husband's health in prison nor claimed that
he had been tortured.

5. (SBU) Prior to the January 22 incident, Nie had been
interviewed "two or three times" by police about the flight
of her sister. During these interviews, police did not
beat or threaten to beat her. One of the policemen that
interrogated Nie was an officer named "Viet." In those
sessions, Viet was accompanied by other officers and
"behaved normally." Nie said that she had met Viet earlier
when she was seeking police permission to deliver supplies
to her imprisoned husband.

6. (SBU) On January 22, when Nie returned to her home --
she lives alone -- Viet was lying on her bed waiting. When
she entered, he told her to sit down next to him and held
her hands. He asked why she wasn't being "more
cooperative" in the police investigation of her sister's
flight to Cambodia. He then reportedly sat up and drew Nie
to him and bit her twice, first on the back and then on her
upper right arm. The bites did not break the skin, but
left bruises, Nie said. Nie yelled, and a cousin came in,
at which point the policeman rose, slipped a VND 50,000
(USD 3) note on the bed and left the house.

7. (SBU) After the incident, Nie filed a complaint with
the local authorities. A few days later, another police
team came to Nie's house. A policewoman heading the team
apologized and offered her VND 200,000 (USD 12) as
compensation. Nie said she refused to accept the money.
Since the January 22 incident, police have come to her
house once more to question her about her sister. Viet has
never returned.

HO CHI MIN 00000461 002.2 OF 002

8. (SBU) Nie and her sister said they had no knowledge that
her story was on the Internet. Nie did not ask for any USG
assistance except to help get her husband out of prison,
because life was difficult without him.

9. (SBU) Nie appeared to be relatively well off compared to
other ethnic minority individuals we have met. There was
an expensive new motorbike belonging to a brother in the
house; Nie said that she owned a second motorbike. Her
house was in good repair and she wore gold jewelry.

10. (SBU) Comment: The Montagnard Foundation portrayal of
the January 22 incident as well as the depiction of Nie's
husband as a political dissident does not track with the
facts of our interview with Nie. It appears that Nie was a
victim of a rogue cop who made improper sexual advances.
Local officials appeared to be aware of the nature of the
incident but it is unclear if any action was taken.

11. (SBU) Comment Continued: In our follow up discussions
with the district- and provincial Chairmen, we stressed
that police abuse of power is not a unique problem to the
Central Highlands or to Vietnam. However, it was incumbent
upon government to punish violators when such abuses come
to light. We urged the provincial leaders to investigate
the incident thoroughly and take appropriate action.

12. (SBU) From what we can glean, it appears that Nie's
sister H'Blung and her three children were abandoned by her
husband after his resettlement in the United States. Nie
told us that she was not aware of any contact between
H'Blung and her husband, with the exception of one or two
phone calls in 2004. There is no VISAS-93, family
reunification petition for H'Blung on record. End Comment.
WINNICK

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