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Cablegate: Funeral for Ubcv Patriarch Moving Forward, Some Provincial

VZCZCXRO3556
PP RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHNH
DE RUEHHM #0619 1920907
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 100907Z JUL 08
FM AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4623
INFO RUEHHI/AMEMBASSY HANOI PRIORITY 3122
RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE
RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY 4849

UNCLAS HO CHI MINH CITY 000619

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MLS, DRL/AWH AND DRL/IRF

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM KIRF PREL PGOV VM
SUBJECT: FUNERAL FOR UBCV PATRIARCH MOVING FORWARD, SOME PROVINCIAL
MONKS BARRED FROM TRAVELING

REF: A) HCMC 608 B) O-I # 119 -08

1. (SBU) Summary: Post's Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam
(UBCV) contacts in Binh Dinh province affirmed today that the
late Venerable Thich Huang Quang's funeral will be held on July
11 at Nguyen Thieu monastery, amid heavy police security (Ref
A). Senior monks of the banned UBCV organization said they are
in charge of the event, despite Vietnamese media reports that
the official Vietnam Buddhist Sanga will officiate. Although
the UBCV was optimistic that provincial monks would be able to
attend the funeral "without difficulties," monks in some
provinces have reported that police prevented them from
traveling to Binh Dinh. End summary.

UBCV Still in Charge of Funeral
-------------------------------
2. (SBU) Two close UBCV associates of senior leader Thich Quang
Do re-affirmed today that UBCV leaders will officiate at the
funeral of former Patriarch Thich Huang Quang on July 11 in Binh
Dinh, and not the GVN. The Vietnam Buddhist Sanga (VBS) is also
playing a supporting vs. leading role in the ceremonies. Thich
Khong Thanh, who is in Binh Dinh province now, reported that
Vietnam Buddhist Sanga representatives came to pay their
respects to Quang at Nguyen Thieu monastery on July 6th, and
thanked senior UBCV leader Thich Quang Do for guiding the
organization of the "well prepared" funeral. Thanh said the
funeral will be a "tranquil" event devoid of speeches, in
accordance with the late Patriarch's wishes.

But Not Allowed to Advertise
----------------------------
3. (SBU) Security remains tight around the monastery where Quang
lays in state. While Thich Huyen Quang's passing has been noted
in numerous GVN-controlled press outlets, the name of the
organization has generally been absent, other than in one report
that noted that "the UBCV is a religious organization not
recognized by the State." Thich Khong Thanh reported from Binh
Dinh that police have forbidden local flower shops from printing
banners for funeral wreaths with the UBCV's name on them. He
added, however, that several wreaths bearing the organization's
name were sent to the monastery before authorities interfered.
UBCV monks are also closely guarding the funeral notice bearing
the UBCV's name in front of the monastery. Several state-run
media articles have criticized Thich Quang Do and other UBCV
leaders of using the funeral as a means to bolster support for
his candidacy as the Fifth Patriarch and legitimacy for the
organization.

Some Provincial Monks Prevented From Traveling
--------------------------------------------- -
4. (SBU) Though UBCV leaders gathered in Binh Dinh were
previously optimistic about other provincial monks being allowed
to travel to the funeral tomorrow (Ref A), several post contacts
reported that they were prevented from traveling by local
authorities. In nearby Dong Nai province, two UBCV monks said
police stopped them from boarding buses to Binh Dinh shortly
after Quang's death was announced. Their monastery continues to
be monitored by authorities. In Phu Yen, UBCV monks said police
are also posted outside their pagoda, so they will not attempt
the trip. In Ba-Ria-Vung Tau, UBCV monks said they were stopped
and questioned by authorities while traveling, but "managed
their way" to Binh Dinh yesterday. Post will continue to monitor
events.

5. (SBU) Post is awaiting the HCMC External Relations Office's
reply to our diplomatic note requesting an officer be allowed to
attend the funeral, though getting to Binh Dinh in time for the
7:00am start time on July 11 is logistically impossible at this
point (Ref B). Post will continue to report developments.

6. (U) This cable was coordinated with Embassy Hanoi.

FAIRFAX

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