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Cablegate: Update On Arrest of Dissident Catholic Priest and Threats to Buddhist, Hoa Hao Dissidents

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

181027Z May 01

2001HOCHI00603 - UNCLASSIFIED

UNCLASSIFIED PTQ7454

PAGE 01 HO CHI 00603 01 OF 02 181255Z
ACTION EAP-00

INFO LOG-00 AID-00 AMAD-00 CIAE-00 INL-00 SRPP-00 DS-00
EB-00 EUR-00 UTED-00 H-01 TEDE-00 INR-00 IO-00
LAB-01 L-00 NSAE-00 OIC-02 OPIC-01 PRS-00 P-00
SCT-00 SP-00 SSO-00 SS-00 STR-00 TEST-00 TRSE-00
USIE-00 SNIS-00 NISC-00 DSCC-00 PRM-01 DRL-02 G-00
NFAT-00 SAS-00 /008W
------------------ED8E26 181256Z /38
FM AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5075
INFO AMEMBASSY HANOI IMMEDIATE
NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
DIA WASHDC PRIORITY
USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY TOKYO
AMEMBASSY BEIJING
AMEMBASSY ROME
AMCONSUL HONG KONG
USMISSION GENEVA
ASEAN COLLECTIVE
JICPAC HONOLULU HI

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HO CHI MINH CITY 000603

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 02 HO CHI 00603 01 OF 02 181255Z
STATE FOR S/S-O, P, EAP, EAP/BCLTV AND EAP/PD/JMARTIN
STATE ALSO FOR DRL/IRF, DRL/BA AND PRM
CINCPAC FOR FPA
SECDEF FOR ISA/EA/LSTERN
ROME PLEASE PASS VATICAN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM VM HUMANR RELFREE
SUBJECT: UPDATE ON ARREST OF DISSIDENT CATHOLIC PRIEST AND THREATS TO BUDDHIST, HOA HAO DISSIDENTS

REF: HANOI 1208

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: AS REPORTED REFTEL, POLICE IN THUA-THIEN
HUE PROVINCE ARRESTED FATHER LY ON MAY 17. VIETNAM NEWS
MEDIA REPORTED THE ARREST, INCLUDING SOME FOOTAGE SHOWN ON
A LOCAL PROVINCIAL NEWS CHANNEL. THERE ARE CONFLICTING
REPORTS ABOUT WHETHER OR NOT PARISHIONERS ATTEMPTED TO
PREVENT THE ARREST AND WHETHER OR NOT POLICE MET THESE
ATTEMPTS WITH VIOLENCE. ON MAY 18, THICH QUANG DO WAS
SUMMONED TO A DISTRICT PEOPLE'S COMMITTEE IN HCMC.
AUTHORITIES ALLOWED HIM TO RETURN TO HIS PAGODA AFTER TWO
HOURS OF QUESTIONING. BUT THE WARNED HIM NOT TO MAKE A
PLANNED CONTROVERSIAL VISIT TO QUANG NGAI PROVINCE IN
JUNE. HOA HAO ELDER LE QUANG LIEM REMAINS UNDER HOUSE
ARREST AT HIS HOME IN HCMC. CONTRARY TO INDICATIONS
REPORTED IN REFTEL, IT APPEARS THAT LIEM IS NOT IN DANGER
OF ANY FURTHER POLICE ACTIONS AT THIS TIME. END SUMMARY.

ARREST OF FATHER LY
-------------------
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 03 HO CHI 00603 01 OF 02 181255Z

2. (U) ON MAY 18, THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE DAILY "VIETNAM
NEWS," VIETNAMESE VERNACULAR "TUOI TRE" ("YOUTH") AND
"THANH NHIEN" ("YOUTH"), AND THE HANOI VOICE OF VIETNAM
RADIO ALL CARRIED SHORT PIECES ON THE MAY 17 ARREST OF
CATHOLIC DISSIDENT PRIEST NGUYEN VAN LY IN HUE CITY. THE
ARTICLES ECHOED THE FOREIGN MINISTRY'S WRITTEN STATEMENT
THAT LY HAD BEEN ARRESTED BECAUSE HE HAD "CONTINUED TO
CARRY OUT BEHAVIOR THAT AFFECTED PUBLIC SECURITY AND
DISRUPTED THE NORMAL LIFE OF THE PEOPLE." THE VIETNAMESE
VERNACULAR DAILIES ADDED THAT THE ARREST TOOK PLACE IN
FRONT OF A GREAT NUMBER OF LOCAL RESIDENTS.

3. (U) A MAY 17 REUTERS ARTICLE STATED THAT LY WAS
ARRESTED AFTER CONDUCTING A MASS FOR ABOUT 150
PARISHIONERS DURING WHICH HE HAD DISTRIBUTED ANTI-
GOVERNMENT LEAFLETS. A PRESS RELEASE BY THE "FREE VIETNAM
ALLIANCE" SAID 600 SECURITY OFFICERS USED FORCE TO REMOVE
LY FROM HIS CHAMBERS. IT SAID, "PARISHIONERS... BEGAN TO
CRY AND TRIED TO BLOCK THE ARREST. POLICE IN TURN USED
ELECTRIC PRODS AGAINST THE PARISHIONERS AND TOOK THE
PRIEST AWAY."

4. (SBU) ON MAY 18 POLOFF SPOKE BY PHONE WITH A BUDDHIST
RESIDENT AND A CATHOLIC RESIDENT OF HUE CITY. BOTH KNEW
ABOUT THE ARREST AND SAID THEY HEARD SECOND-HAND THAT ONLY
A "FEW" POLICEMEN CAME TO THE CHURCH, AND THAT THE ARREST
TOOK PLACE WITHOUT ANY VIOLENCE. THEY NOTED THAT FOOTAGE
OF FATHER LY BEING QUESTIONED BY POLICE WAS SHOWN ON THUA-
THIEN HUE TELEVISION THE NIGHT BEFORE (MAY 17). REFTEL
REPORTED THAT A CATHOLIC CONTACT IN HCMC TOLD POLOFF ON
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 04 HO CHI 00603 01 OF 02 181255Z
MAY 17 THAT 300 SECURITY OFFICERS HAD ENTERED THE CHURCH
COMPOUND, AND THAT VIOLENCE HAD ACCOMPANIED THE ARREST.

SUMMONS OF THICH QUANG DO
-------------------------

5. (SBU) UBCV BUDDHIST MONK THICH QUANG DO WAS SUMMONED TO
APPEAR BEFORE THE PEOPLE'S COMMITTEE OF PHU NHUAN DISTRICT
IN HCMC AT 2:00 P.M. ON MAY 18. POLOFF SPOKE WITH DO BY
TELEPHONE AT 4:00 P.M. JUST A FEW MINUTES AFTER HE
RETURNED TO HIS PAGODA. DO SAID THAT THE OFFICIALS AT THE
DISTRICT PEOPLE'S COMMITTEE WARNED HIM STRONGLY NOT TO
UNDERTAKE HIS PLANNED TRIP TO QUANG NGAI PROVINCE IN JUNE.
(NOTE: DO HAD EARLIER SENT A LETTER TO THE GOVERNMENT
REQUESTING THAT UBCV PATRIARCH THICH HUYEN QUANG BE
ALLOWED TO RETURN BACK TO HCMC FROM QUANG NGAI PROVINCE.
IN HIS LETTER DO STATED THAT IF HE DID NOT RECEIVE A REPLY
BY JUNE, HE WOULD TRAVEL TO QUANG NGAI PROVINCE HIMSELF IN
ORDER TO RETUIRN THICH HUYEN QUANG TO HCMC. END NOTE.)

6. (SBU) DO AGREED TO DELAY HIS PLANNED TRIP. BUT HE SAID
HE WOULD WRITE ANOTHER LETTER TO THE GOVERNMENT REQUESTING
THE RETURN OF THICH HUYEN QUANG TO HCMC. HE AGREED TO
WAIT, BUT SAID IF HE RECEIVED NO WRITTEN REPLY FROM THE
GOVERNMENT IN A REASONABLE PERIOD OF TIME, HE WOULD CARRY
THROUGH WITH HIS PLANS. AFTER NEARLY TWO HOURS OF
DISCUSSIONS, DO REQUESTED PERMISSION TO RETURN TO HIS
PAGODA. THE OFFICIALS ALLOWED HIM TO LEAVE, BUT NOTED
THEY WOULD SUMMON HIM AGAIN TO CONTINUE THE DISCUSSIONS.
DO TOLD POLOFF HE WAS TIRED, BUT OTHERWISE IN GOOD
SPIRITS.

HOUSE ARREST OF LE QUANG LIEM
-----------------------------
7. (SBU) REFTEL REPORTED THAT A CONTACT TOLD POLOFF THAT
HOA HAO ELDER LE QUANG LIEM WAS ALSO IN IMMINENT DANGER OF
ARREST IN HCMC. (LIEM IS ALREADY UNDER HOUSE ARREST.)
CONGEN WAS UNABLE TO REACH LIEM BY TELEPHONE ALL DAY
YESTERDAY, MAY 17, OR TODAY, MAY 18. CONGEN WAS ABLE TO
REACH ANOTHER HOA HAO CONTACT, HOWEVER, WHO SAID HE HAD
TALKED WITH LIEM BY PHONE SHORTLY AFTER NOON ON MAY 17.
ALTHOUGH POLICE MAINTAIN A VIGIL AT LIEM'S RESIDENCE, LIEM
REPORTED NO UNUSUAL ACTIVITY TO THE OTHER CONTACT. THIS
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 03 HO CHI 00603 02 OF 02 181255Z
CONTACT DID NOT BELIEVE LIEM WAS IN DANGER OF ANY FURTHER
POLICE ACTIONS.

COMMENT
-------
8. (U) POST WILL CONTINUE TO MONITOR THE SITUATIONS OF ALL
THREE RELIGIOUS DISSIDENTS, FATHER LY, THICH QUANG DO, AND
LE QUANG LIEM, AND REPORT SIGNIFICANT DEVELOPMENTS AS THEY
OCCUR.

RAY

NOTE: NOT PASSED TO ABOVE ADDRESSEE(S)

UNCLASSIFIED

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