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Cablegate: Anti-Olympics Blogger Arrested

VZCZCXRO9488
RR RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHHI #0458 1130103
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 220103Z APR 08 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7658
INFO RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH 4617
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 7100
RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS HANOI 000458

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MLS AND DRL/AWH

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PGOV PREL VM
SUBJECT: Anti-Olympics Blogger Arrested

Ref: HCMC 235

1. (SBU) Summary. Reports from friends and colleagues indicate that
Hoang Hai (AKA prominent blogger "Dieu Cay" has been arrested.
After reportedly hiding out for about a month, the police located
and arrested Hai in central city of Da Lat over the weekend of April
19-20. While the specific reason for his arrest is unclear, his
arrest appears to have been precipitated by his participation in a
January 19 protest against the Olympics and the threat of disruption
of the Olympic torch relay in Ho Chi Minh City scheduled for April
29 rather than by his blog directly. End Summary.

2. (SBU) Hai is a member of a new, young dissident group, the
pro-democracy Freelance Journalist Club, and was one of the
organizers of an unauthorized January 19, 2008, protest against the
Olympics in Beijing. During that event, held on the steps of the
Opera House in central Ho Chi City, Hai and others held up several
banners calling for a boycott of the Beijing Olympics, including one
with the now-familiar image of the Olympic rings represented by
handcuffs. Immediately after participating in the anti-Olympics
protest, Hai faced intense police harassment -- police reportedly
barred multiple land owners from leasing property to the small
business that Hai owns. In addition, the police called him in for
"working sessions" at least nine times following the January protest
action.

3. (SBU) Since then, roughly half of Dieu Cay's blog entries target
the Beijing Olympics. While most entries cite the same human rights
concerns being echoed by groups around the world, other entries
reflect a purely Vietnamese angle, focusing on the ongoing dispute
with China over the Spratley and Paracel Islands. Hai's role in
this dispute includes taking part in a recent blog campaign to
protest China's reported intention to incorporate the disputed
Spratly and Paracel Islands into Chinese administrative control.
Hai approaches the human rights situation in China in graphic terms
-- the background to his blog page is a five-panel cartoon strip
depicting the official logo of the Beijing Olympics being formed
from blood splattered as a man is executed by firing squad. His
more recent blog entries focus on the ongoing unrest in Tibet, with
China's actions in Tibet being the topic of his last entry, dated
April 16.

4. (SBU) Comment: While Hai is extraordinarily outspoken on his blog
on human rights, democracy, and corruption in Vietnam, he was likely
detained as part of a security sweep to ensure that the April 29
Olympic torch relay in Ho Chi Minh City will go off without a hitch.
Following well-reported actions against the torch relay in Paris
and elsewhere, Prime Minister Dung announced that no disruptions
would be tolerated in Vietnam. Given Hai's particularly active
campaign against the upcoming Beijing Olympics over the past several
months, authorities appear to be concerned that he plans to organize
protestors to disrupt the torch procession. Whatever the motivation,
the arrest of a blogger is a matter of particular concern given the
important and rapidly growing role that blogs play in expanding the
scope of civil discourse in Vietnam (reftel). End Comment.

5. (U) Dieu Cay's blog is available (in Vietnamese only) at the
"Yahoo 360" web site at the following address:
http://blog.360.yahoo.com/
blog-Fqy69mcyequwJv.MxrhJO_sXCZbkCw--?cq=1.

6. This cable was coordinated with the Consulate General in Ho Chi
Minh City.

MICHALAK

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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