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Cablegate: Drl As Kramer Meets with Family Members of High Profile

VZCZCXRO2723
PP RUEHHM
DE RUEHHI #0668/01 1580548
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 060548Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7955
INFO RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH 4814
RHEHNSC/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HANOI 000668

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MLS AND DRL/AWH

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

SUBJECT: DRL AS KRAMER MEETS WITH FAMILY MEMBERS OF HIGH PROFILE
POLITICAL PRISONERS

REFS: 07 HANOI 1993

SUMMARY
-------

1. (SBU) In a private meeting in Hanoi with Assistant Secretary of
State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor David Kramer and the
Ambassador, Mrs. Vu Minh Khanh, the wife of jailed human rights
lawyer and Protestant activist Nguyen Van Dai and Mrs. Tran Thi Le,
the mother of jailed human rights lawyer and labor activist Le Thi
Cong Nhan, detailed their family members' current situations and
health status. Both Dai and Nhan, now in separate prisons south of
Hanoi, are in stable health and reportedly in relatively good
spirits. Khanh is seeking an unlikely third legal review of her
husband's case. Both women complained of ongoing harassment of
their relatives' attornies and restrictions imposed by the prisons.
Le said the USG should continue to press Vietnam on human rights and
"hold Vietnam responsible" for its compliance, or lack thereof, with
international human rights conventions which it has ratified.
According to their family members, neither prisoner is interested in
political asylum to a third country, at this time.


DAI AND NHAN IMPRISONED SINCE MARCH 2007
----------------------------------------


2. (SBU) On May 29 in Hanoi, Assistant Secretary for Democracy,
Human Rights, and Labor David Kramer and the Ambassador met
privately with Mrs. Vu Minh Khanh, the wife of jailed human rights
lawyer and Protestant activist Nguyen Van Dai, and Mrs. Tran Thi Le,
the mother of jailed 28-year old human rights lawyer and labor
activist Le Thi Cong Nhan, also a Christian. Lawyers Dai and Nhan
were both arrested in March 2007 and tried and sentenced by the
Hanoi People's Court to five and four years of prison, respectively,
for "conducting propaganda against the State," per Article 88 of the
GVN criminal code. At an appeal trial in November 2007, each of
their sentences was reduced by one year, to four and three years
respectively. Dai is serving his four-year sentence at Ba Sao (aka
Nam Ha) Prison in Ha Nam Province and Nhan is at Thanh Hoa Province
Prison Number Five. Family members are permitted monthly visits,
per GVN regulations. Each prisoner has been allowed access to a
Bible, after earlier concerns expressed by the Embassy about lack of
access.


BOTH DAI AND NHAN IN STABLE HEALTH
----------------------------------


3. (SBU) Both women briefly summarized for the Assistant Secretary
and the Ambassador the trial and the government's case against their
family members. In terms of their current health, Mrs. Le said her
daughter was "doing well psychologically and physically." However,
her allergies and sinusitis flare up when she has to do prison
cleaning chores, including maintaining the plants and trees in the
prison's main garden. Mrs. Khanh said her husband's health was
"stable," and Dai was "doing okay" psychologically. Dai has a liver
condition for which he takes medication.


PRIVILEGES ONLY FOR THOSE WHO CONFESS THEIR CRIMES
--------------------------------------------- -----


4. (SBU) In terms of specific complaints, Khanh said she was
frustrated with repeated restrictions on her monthly prison visits
and government bureaucracy. She has had to go through a
time-consuming police permission process before every monthly visit
and is restricted from bringing Dai certain foods he likes. Le said
her daughter is denied certain prison privileges because she will
not admit to her crime, and hence, is left off the prison's
"benefits list."


VIETNAM IMPLEMENTING "SUBJECTIVELY" HR CONVENTIONS
--------------------------------------------- -----


5. (SBU) Both women told the Assistant Secretary that the USG should
continue to actively press Vietnam on human rights. Le told the
Assistant Secretary that Vietnam has "never implemented in reality"
the Universal Declaration on Human Rights nor the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). She said the USG
should hold the GVN responsible under the international conventions
it has signed onto because the GVN was only implementing them
"subjectively" to date. She added that her daughter was an

HANOI 00000668 002 OF 002


international human rights lawyer and knows that she has violated no
international law.


DAI'S WIFE PURSUING UNLIKELY LEGAL REVIEW STRATEGY
--------------------------------------------- -----


6. (SBU) Khanh continues to pursue a legal strategy in pursuit of
getting her husband released from prison. Working with a number of
lawyers, Khanh has petitioned the GVN Supreme People's Court (SPC)
for a "judging panel review" on her husband's case. After months
without reply, the SPC recently responded to Dai's lawyers that
there was "not sufficient grounds" for a review. (Comment: After a
trial and an appeal trial, Post believes it unlikely such a legal
strategy would work in Dai or Nhan's case. End comment.)

7. (SBU) Khanh went on to ask three things from the USG and the
international community. First, she seeks protection for her
husband's defense attornies from GVN harassment. She says her
husband's attornies are "risking their careers," taking on his case.
She told Assistant Secretary Kramer that recently agents of
Vietnam's security services entered the home of her husband's lead
attorney and confiscated his laptop and cellular phones, leaving
behind cash and valuables in the house. In addition, one agent
visited Dai's attorney and allegedly told him that he "could be
killed" for being "too enthusiastic" on Dai's case. Secondly, Khanh
seeks protection for her husband's defense witnesses, one of whom
was allegedly beaten up and prevented from attending her husband's
appeal trial. Lastly, she asks for cooperation from the courts, in
particular to get the dossiers from the trial to use in her
husband's defense. (Comment: Most of what Mrs. Khanh said tracks
with common complaints in other political cases Post is familiar
with and the ongoing lack of defendants' rights in Vietnam. End
comment.)


AMNESTY REQUEST
---------------


8. (SBU) Assistant Secretary Kramer raised the cases of Dai and
Nhan, along with others, directly at the May 29 USG-GVN Human Rights
Dialogue earlier in the day with MFA Assistant Foreign Minister
(AFM) Doan Xuan Hung (septel). The Assistant Secretary specifically
called for the two prisoners of conscience to be amnestied and
released as soon as possible. AFM Hung, who repeated the GVN line
that there are no "political prisoners" in Vietnam - only
"lawbreakers" - told Kramer that the GVN was "open" to considering
cases of those eligible for amnesty and would review the specific
cases. Kramer summarized his relevant discussions at the Human
Rights Dialogue for Khanh and Le and assured both of them that the
USG would continue to press on their family members' cases.


NEITHER PRISONER INTERESTED IN POLITICAL ASYLUM
--------------------------------------------- --


9. (SBU) In a later conversation with Poloff, both women said
requesting political asylum to a third country was not an option for
their imprisoned family members unless the situation for them "got a
lot worse." Mrs. Le told us that her daughter had already been
offered asylum in Poland but had never pursued it, as she was "very
patriotic" and wanted to continue to fight for a stronger Vietnam in
Vietnam. Both women stated, however, that the future could raise
other possibilities.

10. (U) This cable has been cleared by the office of DRL Assistant
Secretary David Kramer.

MICHALAK

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