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Cablegate: Update On Arrest of Father Nguyen Van Ly

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

080737Z Jun 01

2001HOCHI00688 - UNCLASSIFIED

UNCLASSIFIED PTQ0102

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FM AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5143
INFO AMEMBASSY HANOI PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY VATICAN
AMCONSUL HONG KONG
USMISSION GENEVA
ASEAN COLLECTIVE
USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI
JICPAC HONOLULU HI
SECDEF WASHDC
DIA WASHDC
NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HO CHI MINH CITY 000688

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SENSITIVE

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STATE ALSO FOR DRL/IRF
CINCPAC FOR FPA
UNCLASSIFIED

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SECDEF FOR ISA/EA/LSTERN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM KIRF VM RELFREE HUMANR
SUBJECT: UPDATE ON ARREST OF FATHER NGUYEN VAN LY

REF: A. HCMC 0684 AND PREVIOUS B. HCMC 0603

C. HANOI 1208 D. HCMC 0273

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: A RELIABLE CATHOLIC SOURCE IN HCMC SAID
THAT FATHER NGUYEN VAN LY BEGAN A HUNGER STRIKE WHEN HE
WAS ARRESTED ON MAY 17. ON MAY 29 OR MAY 30, POLICE
TRANSFERRED HIM FROM JAIL TO A MILITARY HOSPITAL IN HUE.
FATHER LY REPORTEDLY REFUSED TO ACCEPT INTRAVENOUS
SOLUTIONS, BUT EVENTUALLY CONSENTED TO TAKING WATER MIXED
WITH SUGAR AND SALT. FATHER LY REPORTEDLY THUS FAR IS NOT
EXPERIENCING ANY SERIOUS HEALTH PROBLEMS AS A RESULT OF
HIS HUNGER STRIKE. PHONE LINES TO TWO CATHOLIC PRIESTS IN
HUE HAVE BEEN CUT OFF SINCE JUNE 5, BUT THE CATHOLIC
SOURCE BELIEVED THIS WAS AN ATTEMPT TO SUPPRESS
INFORMATION RELATED TO THE RECENT BUDDHIST PROBLEMS (REF
A), AND NOT TO CUT OFF INFORMATION ABOUT FATHER LY. END
SUMMARY.

2. (U) REFS B AND C DESCRIBE THE CONFLICTING REPORTS OF
CIRCUMSTANCES SURROUNDING THE ARREST OF FATHER LY. BETTER
INFORMATION IS NOW AVAILABLE. AT 5:00 A.M. ON MAY 17,
SEVERAL POLICEMEN ENTERED THE CHURCH WHERE FATHER LY WAS
PREPARING TO SAY MASS. THEY LED HIM AWAY IN FRONT OF THE
FEW WORSHIPPERS PRESENT. LATER IN THE MORNING, AS WORD OF
THE ARREST SPREAD, WITNESSES SAY THAT 300 TO 500
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 03 HO CHI 00688 01 OF 02 080735Z
PARISHIONERS BEGAN CONGREGATING AT THE CHURCH AND
DEMONSTRATING IN SUPPORT OF FATHER LY. AUTHORITIES SENT
IN ABOUT 300 SECURITY POLICE TO MAINTAIN ORDER. A FIGHT
ENSUED; POLICE USED BATONS AND ELECTRIC PRODS TO MAINTAIN
ORDER. WITNESSES SAY THAT POLICE DETAINED APPROXIMATELY
10 PEOPLE FOR FIGHTING WITH THE SECURITY FORCES, BUT IT IS
UNKNOWN WHETHER ANY OR ALL OF THEM HAVE BEEN RELEASED.

3. (SBU) ON JUNE 8, POLOFF MET WITH A RELIABLE CATHOLIC
SOURCE IN HCMC. THE SOURCE SAID THAT ON MAY 17, POLICE
TOOK FATHER LY TO PHU THUA PRISON IN HUE WHERE HE
IMMEDIATELY BEGAN A HUNGER STRIKE. AFTER 10 DAYS, HE HAD
BECOME VERY WEAK. POLICE TRANSFERRED HIM TO MANH CA
MILITARY HOSPITAL IN HUE ON MAY 29 OR 30. HE REPORTEDLY
REFUSED INTRAVENOUS FLUIDS, BUT EVENTUALLY CONSENTED TO
TAKING WATER MIXED WITH A LITTLE SUGAR AND SALT. AS OF
JUNE 5, HE WAS STILL AT THE HOSPITAL. THE SOURCE SAID HE
DID NOT BELIEVE FATHER LY WAS YET IN ANY DANGER OF SERIOUS
HEALTH PROBLEMS AS A CONSEQUENCE OF HIS HUNGER STRIKE.

4. (SBU) THE SOURCE NOTED THAT WHILE FATHER LY WAS UNDER
HOUSE ARREST, AUTHORITIES TOLD HIGH SCHOOL AND UNIVERSITY
STUDENT PARISHIONERS THAT IF THEY ATTENDED FATHER LY'S
MASSES, THEY WOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO ATTEND SCHOOL. THE
SOURCE ALSO SAID THAT AS OF JUNE 5, PHONE LINES TO TWO
SUPPORTERS OF FATHER LY IN HUE, FATHER NGUYEN HUU GIAI AND
FATHER PHAN VAN LOI, HAVE BEEN CUT. HE BELIEVED THIS WAS
AN ATTEMPT TO SUPPRESS INFORMATION ON THE CURRENT BUDDHIST
PROBLEMS IN THE CITY RATHER THAN AN ATTEMPT TO CUT OFF
INFORMATION ABOUT FATHER LY.

UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 04 HO CHI 00688 01 OF 02 080735Z
5. (SBU) THE SOURCE SAID THAT THERE HAS BEEN A DEGREE OF
COOPERATION AND SUPPORT BETWEEN CATHOLIC AND BUDDHIST
"DISSIDENT" CLERGY IN HUE. HE SHOWED POLOFF A PHOTOGRAPH
TAKEN FROM THE INTERNET SHOWING FATHER LY, HOA HAO ELDER
LE QUANG LIEM, AND HUE-BASED UBCV BUDDHIST MONKS THICH
TRAN CHI AND THICH THIEN THANH WHEN THEY MET TOGETHER IN
HUE IN FEBRUARY TO ESTABLISH AN INTER-RELIGIOUS BODY
OUTSIDE OF GOVERNMENT AUTHORITY. BUT HE ALSO NOTED THAT
CATHOLIC BELIEVERS WOULD NEVER SUPPORT THE UBCV BUDDHIST
CAUSE, AND THAT BUDDHIST BELIEVERS WOULD NEVER SUPPORT THE
CATHOLIC CAUSE, SO THERE WAS LITTLE CHANCE THE TWO GROUPS
WOULD EVER COME TOGETHER TO PROTEST GOVERNMENT REPRESSION.

COMMENT
-------

6. (SBU) POST AGREES THAT FOR HISTORICAL AND OTHER
REASONS, THE BUDDHIST AND CATHOLIC COMMUNITIES ARE
UNLIKELY TO EVER STAND UNITED. IN FACT, IT IS UNLIKELY
THAT EVEN MANY CATHOLICS OUTSIDE OF HUE WOULD PUBLICLY
SUPPORT FATHER LY'S CAUSE. CERTAINLY MANY VIETNAMESE
CATHOLICS PRIVATELY EMPATHIZE WITH FATHER LY'S CRITICAL
VIEWS ON GVN RELIGIOUS POLICY, BUT THEY ALSO RECOGNIZE
THAT THERE HAS NONETHELESS BEEN PROGRESS ON FREEDOM OF
WORHSHIP OVER THE PAST 8-10 YEARS. POST BELIEVES
VIETNAMESE CATHOLICS BY AND LARGE PREFER A CAUTIOUS
DIPLOMATIC APPROACH TO SOLVING THEIR PROBLEMS RATHER THAN
RISKING ALL IN A MARTYR'S CAUSE.

RAY

UNCLASSIFIED

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