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Cablegate: Vietnam Outreach On Activists for Democracy and Dissidents

VZCZCXRO9557
RR RUEHHM
DE RUEHHI #0528 1271024
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 061024Z MAY 08 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7754
INFO RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH 4676

UNCLAS HANOI 000528

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MLS, DRL/SEA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PREL VM

SUBJECT: VIETNAM OUTREACH ON ACTIVISTS FOR DEMOCRACY AND DISSIDENTS

REF: STATE 44903

1. (SBU) Summary: Ambassador Michalak has named the promotion of
human rights as his top priority in Vietnam. In support of the
President's freedom agenda, the Ambassador has raised human rights
with the highest levels of the Vietnamese government, including both
the President and Prime Minister. Ambassador Michalak continues to
urge the government to eliminate limitations on fundamental freedoms
and advocates in cases where the government has infringed on the
human rights of individuals. The Ambassador and Mission personnel
meet regularly with activists for democracy, many of whom are in
prison or under house arrest. End summary.

2. (SBU) To promote the President's freedom agenda we use diplomatic
influence; targeted dialogue with government officials on the
benefits to Vietnam of expanded freedoms and an improved human
rights environment; public diplomacy efforts aimed at educating key
decision makers, future leaders and the general public; and formal
dialogues with the government on human rights and labor issues. We
work closely with like-minded diplomatic missions in Hanoi and Ho
Chi Minh City to coordinate efforts on human rights.

3. (SBU) In his meetings with leading government officials,
Ambassador Michalak continues to explain that the promotion of human
rights is among his top priorities during his tenure. He calls for
the government to improve the human rights situation in Vietnam, to
release prisoners of conscience, and to enhance religious freedom
further. Ambassador Michalak has reiterated President Bush's
message to President Nguyen Minh Triet in June 2007 that, in order
for the United States-Vietnam relationship to progress, Vietnam will
need to do more to respect human rights.
4. (SBU) In his many major media events with both Vietnamese and
International journalists from print, television, radio and online
outlets, Ambassador Michalak has repeated his call for freedom of
peaceful expression and other fundamental rights.
5. (SBU) The Ambassador and mission personnel meet regularly with
activists for democracy, many of whom are jailed or under house
arrest. In HCMC, Ambassador Michalak and members of Representative
Steny Hoyer's delegation met with family members and legal counsel
of jailed democracy activists in January 2008. In March 2008 the
Ambassador met with Nguyen Van Ly, one of Vietnam's most famous
political dissidents, in his prison south of Hanoi.
6. (SBU) Our efforts have had concrete results. For example, when
American citizen democracy activists were jailed in Vietnam in
November 2007, Ambassador Michalak publicly called on the government
of Vietnam to release them. Soon afterwards the activists were
freed.
7. (SBU) In February 2006, the United States resumed its annual
Human Rights Dialogue (HRD) with Vietnam. The next HRD will be held
on May 29, 2008, with the U.S. delegation led by DRL Assistant
Secretary Kramer. This will be another opportunity to urge Vietnam
to eliminate limitations on fundamental freedoms and advocate in
cases where the government has infringed on the human rights of
individuals.
8. (U) This cable was coordinated with ConGen Ho Chi Minh City.
MICHALAK

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