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Cablegate: Meeting with Democratic Party of Vietnam Founder Hoang Minh

VZCZCXRO6947
RR RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHHI #1271/01 2001619
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 191619Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5850
INFO RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH 3373
RHEHNSC/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HANOI 001271

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MLS AND DRL/AWH
NSC FOR KURT TONG

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PREL PGOV VM
SUBJECT: MEETING WITH DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF VIETNAM FOUNDER HOANG MINH
CHINH

REF: HANOI 872

HANOI 00001271 001.2 OF 002


SUMMARY:
--------

1. (SBU) On July 11, 2007, PolOffs met with long-time political
activist and founder of the outlawed Democratic Party of Vietnam
(DPV), Hoang Minh Chinh, at his home in Hanoi where he remains under
house arrest. Chinh is suffering from prostate cancer, and appeared
seriously ill. Nevertheless, his speech was strong, and he briefed
PolOffs on the history, formation and current operations of the DPV.
According to Chinh, the DPV continues to gain membership and
collaborates with other pro-democracy groups, including the better
known Bloc 8406. Chinh expressed strong support for the USG's
dialogue with Vietnam on human rights and democracy and told us that
international pressure on Vietnam was particularly needed now, with
the GVN's recent crackdown on political dissidents and limitations
on freedom of expression. Chinh expressed concern about "pro-China"
elements within the GVN and made a specific request for USG pressure
for the release of recently jailed human rights lawyer colleagues,
Nguyen Van Dai and Le Thi Cong Nhan. End Summary.


HEALTH CONCERNS
---------------

2. (SBU) On July 11, PolOffs met with longtime democracy activist
and political dissident Hoang Minh Chinh at his home in Hanoi. The
87-year old Chinh, a one time Communist Party ideologue and now
founder of the fledgling pro-democracy group - the Democratic Party
of Vietnam - suffers from prostate cancer and intestinal tract
issues. Chinh is bedridden and weak but, despite his illness, he
spoke strongly and at length with us about human rights and
democracy issues. He says he continues to work with fellow
activists Nguyen Khac Toan (septel), Tran Khue, Do Nam Hai and
members of Bloc 8406 and his own DPV. Chinh has been under house
arrest since his return from a late 2005 trip to the United States,
and while there are reports GVN authorities have lessened
restrictions, PolOffs noticed plainclothes police stationed near his
home.


WITHER THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF VIETNAM?
---------------------------------------

3. (SBU) Chinh highlighted for us the history and formation of the
DPV, and regards it as a vehicle to promulgate ideas rather than as
an opposition party. The DPV is a pro-democracy group founded in
2006 and outlawed by the GVN. DPV members are not able to meet in
Vietnam, but they continue to keep in contact with Chinh by phone
since his internet service has been cut by the authorities for
several months. (Note: Chinh said he regularly changes his cellular
phone number. End note.) Chinh said the DPV is currently working
on an e-newsletter and hopes to further push the bounds of freedom
of speech and internet freedom. While he would not divulge the
number of members "due to security concerns," he hopes the DPV will
be able to "unite people from all social strata, religions and
political party affiliation and allow for their voice to be heard."
Chinh was in contact with Bloc 8406 leader Nguyen Van Ly prior to
his arrest and imprisonment, and stated that the Bloc 8406 Charter
in part came from the DPV's draft platform.


TIME TO PRESS FOR GREATER REFORM
--------------------------------

4. (SBU) Chinh was very glad to read that President Bush and
Secretary Rice directly raised human rights with GVN officials and

SIPDIS
added that "now is the time to apply significant pressure" on the
government. He said this "has helped the situation in Vietnam."
Chinh was also very supportive of action by the U.S. Congress and
hoped it continues to pressure the GVN to "make human rights a
priority of U.S.-Vietnam bilateral relations." He also believes the
international community needs to pressure the GVN to provide for
greater freedom of expression. Chinh told us that there is a strong
and conservative pro-China camp in the GVN, and "the US needs to
help prevent China from taking over Vietnam."

5. (SBU) Chinh fondly recalled his 2005 visit to the United States
and the meetings he held with members of Congress and Department
officials to discuss human rights. Chinh said that he has "no plans
to die anytime soon because there is still so much to accomplish."
Before ending the meeting, Chinh asked for USG assistance on the
cases of jailed human rights lawyers Nguyen Van Dai and Le Thi Cong
Nhan (Reftel).


HANOI 00001271 002.2 OF 002

COMMENT
-------

6. (SBU) It is hard to gauge Chinh's true ability to "network" with
other activists, especially those within Vietnam, in the wake of the
crackdown here earlier in the year. He is clearly not cowed,
however, and intent on remaining as active as possible. End
comment.

MARINE

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