Search

 

Cablegate: Gvn Conservatives Livid Over Congenoff Stop at Nuns

VZCZCXRO7211
PP RUEHHM
DE RUEHHM #0333 0881059
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P R 281059Z MAR 08
FM AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3935
INFO RUEHHI/AMEMBASSY HANOI 2589
RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY 4157

UNCLAS HO CHI MINH CITY 000333

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MLS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV VM
SUBJECT: GVN CONSERVATIVES LIVID OVER CONGENOFF STOP AT NUNS
DEMONSTRATION

REF: HCMC WEEKLY MARCH 21, 2008

1. (SBU) Summary: The External Relations Office (ERO) in HCMC
summoned A/CG and HRS Chief to protest HRS Chief's brief
interaction on March 17 with a group of nuns holding a vigil in
front of a disputed building site. We responded that the visit,
made to follow-up a report that a nun had been roughed up at the
site earlier, was purely informational and did not indicate any
direct U.S. involvement in the protest. ERO emphasized that
some within the GVN's top leadership -- extremely wary of the
United States -- are predisposed to attach tremendous symbolic
importance to such small matters. End summary.

2. (SBU) On March 27, HCMC ERO Deputy Director Nguyen Vu Tu
summoned A/CG and HRS Chief to formally protest the latter's
brief stop at a demonstration by a group of Catholic nuns in
front of a building site on March 17 (Reftel). After showing a
video of HRS Chief and a ConGen vehicle at the site, Tu stated
that the GVN viewed this as "interference in Vietnam's internal
affairs" and a violation of Article 55 of the Geneva Convention
on Diplomatic Relations. Going to the site in an official
vehicle, stopping, and talking to the nuns, was viewed by
conservative elements "at the top" in both Hanoi and HCMC as
evidence that some part of the USG is still trying to
destabilize the GVN, nearly 35 years after the war's end. These
elements also viewed the nuns' activities as an anti-GVN
protest. Tu noted that the land issue is a sensitive internal
matter, particularly where the Catholic Church is concerned. Tu
said that the Vietnamese Embassy in Washington would also bring
this incident to the notice of the Department.

3. (SBU) We explained that the visit was prompted by a report
that a nun had been manhandled at the site earlier in the day
and the visit was informational only. Furthermore, we did not
perceive the nuns' demonstration or the visit as anti-GVN acts.
Tu elaborated that collecting information was not the problem,
but that a perception of official U.S. support for a group of
"anti-government protestors" was an extremely serious issue. He
suggested that had the visit been conducted more discretely and
not included interaction with the nuns, it would not have
created a problem. Tu went on to say that the leadership
elements angered by the visit had "fought against the U.S.
before 1975." They view the United States differently than they
view any other country and thus hold it to a different standard.


4. (SBU) Continuing to read from a long set of points that he
said "came from Hanoi," Tu said that the "highest leadership" is
particularly incensed that USG officials continue to meet with
"persons opposed to the central government," whereas the
Vietnamese Government "had never met with any persons inside the
United States opposed to the U.S. government." He asserted that
the USG seems intent on hearing "only one side" of the story in
Vietnam, the anti-GVN side.

5. (SBU) A/CG stated that U.S. consular officials are tasked
with reporting to Washington on the full range of issues -
social, economic, and political - that bear on the bilateral
relationship. To that end they collect information from a wide
variety of sources. This allows the consulate to report with
accuracy to Washington what is really happening in Vietnam
rather than relying on sources outside Vietnam who assert, often
without foundation, that the GVN is misbehaving or mistreating
its own citizens. She reiterated the innocent nature of the
incident in question. At the same time, she observed that, as
indicated by the Vietnamese protest, all USG officials in
Vietnam obviously are being monitored at all times. Therefore,
we must assume that all our actions could be misinterpreted at
any time. We will continue both to do our jobs in accordance
with USG policy and show respect for Vietnamese sovereignty and
the furtherance of bilateral relations.

6. (SBU) Comment: With the rapid growth of Vietnam's economy,
the far-reaching changes in Vietnamese society, and the
substantial ongoing improvement in the bilateral relationship,
it is easy to forget the surreal degree to which some in the GVN
evaluate our actions for unimagined symbolic meanings. We are
hard-pressed to identify many other countries where this minor
event would have provoked such a strong reaction. This is a
warning that we are under the microscope and that small
unintentional missteps can lead to major misperceptions. It is
also interesting how the ERO characterized those intent on
protesting the action. They all but used the term "hardliner"
and made it clear that they were speaking under instruction
"from Hanoi." End Comment.

7. (U) This message was coordinated with Embassy Hanoi.

DICKEY

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>

ALSO:

Another US Court: Fourth Circuit Rules Muslim Ban Discriminatory

ACLU: Step by step, point by point, the court laid out what has been clear from the start: The president promised to ban Muslims from the United States, and his executive orders are an attempt to do just that. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC