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Cablegate: Update On Continuing Buddhist Tensions

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

150903Z Jun 01

2001HOCHI00734 - UNCLASSIFIED

UNCLASSIFIED PTQ8889

PAGE 01 HO CHI 00734 01 OF 02 150909Z
ACTION EAP-00

INFO LOG-00 AID-00 AMAD-00 CIAE-00 SRPP-00 EB-00 UTED-00
H-01 TEDE-00 INR-00 IO-00 L-00 NSAE-00 OIC-02
OPIC-01 PRS-00 P-00 SP-00 SS-00 STR-00 TEST-00
TRSE-00 USIE-00 PRM-01 DRL-02 G-00 NFAT-00 SAS-00
/007W
------------------F91F2F 150909Z /38
FM AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5183
INFO AMEMBASSY HANOI PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY TOKYO
AMEMBASSY BEIJING
AMEMBASSY CANBERRA
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 000734

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/BCLTV AND EAP/PD/JMARTIN
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 02 HO CHI 00734 01 OF 02 150909Z
DEPARTMENT ALSO FOR DRL/IRF
CINCPAC FOR FPA
SECDEF FOR ISA/EA/LSTERN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM KIRF VM HUMANR RELFREE
SUBJECT: UPDATE ON CONTINUING BUDDHIST TENSIONS
REF: A. HCMC 0699 B. HCMC 0684 AND PREVIOUS

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: ON JUNE 7, ABOUT 100 MONKS, NUNS AND
SUPPORTERS OF THE OUTLAWED UNIFIED BUDDHIST CHURCH OF
VIETNAM (UBCV) ATTEMPTED TO TRAVEL TO QUANG NGAI
PROVINCE TO MEET WITH UBCV SUPREME PATRIARCH THICH
HUYEN QUANG AND TAKE HIM TO HCMC. POLICE IN HUE HAD
WARNED THEM NOT TO GO, AND MOST OF THEM WERE TURNED
BACK AT POLICE ROADBLOCKS ALONG THE WAY. ABOUT 40 TO
50 MONKS AND NUNS, IN AT LEAST TWO SEPARATE GROUPS,
MADE IT TO QUANG NGAI PROVINCE BUT WERE PREVENTED FROM
MEETING WITH THE PATRIARCH. THEY STAYED IN QUANG NGAI
FOR SEVERAL DAYS, BUT MOST, IF NOT ALL, OF THEM HAVE
NOW RETURNED TO HUE. IN HUE, POLICE REPORTEDLY
CONTINUE TO SUMMON THE ORGANIZERS IN FOR INTERROGATION
SESSIONS, BUT HAVE NOT ARRESTED ANYONE. AUTHORITIES IN
QUANG NGAI PROVINCE REPORTEDLY ARE PRESSURING PATRIARCH
THICH HUYEN QUANG TO MAKE A FORMAL REQUEST TO MOVE TO
NEIGHBORING BINH DINH PROVINCE. IN HCMC, THICH QUANG
DO, WHO HAD PLANNED THE JUNE 7 EVENT, REMAINS UNDER
HOUSE ARREST AND IS NOT ALLOWED VISITORS. ALTHOUGH IN
PHONE CONVERSATIONS WITH CONGEN, UBCV MONKS VOICE
FRUSTRATION AND CONTINUE TO EXPRESS CONCERN FOR THICH
HUYEN QUANG'S HEALTH, THEY HAVE NO PLANS FOR ANY
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 03 HO CHI 00734 01 OF 02 150909Z
FURTHER PROVOCATIVE ACTIONS. END SUMMARY.

INTERROGATIONS BUT NO ARRESTS IN HUE
------------------------------------

2. (SBU) REF A REPORTED THAT POLICE IN QUANG NGAI
PROVINCE HAD DETAINED ABOUT 20 UBCV MONKS, NUNS AND
SUPPORTERS AFTER STOPPING THEIR TWO VANS AT A ROADBLOCK
ABOUT TWO KILOMETERS FROM PATRIARCH THICH HUYEN QUANG'S
PAGODA. IN PHONE CONVERSATIONS WITH SEVERAL BUDDHIST
SOURCES IN HUE ON JUNE 14, POLOFF LEARNED TODAY THERE
WERE 18 BUDDHIST MONKS AND NUNS IN THIS GROUP, AND THAT
THEY WERE DETAINED ONLY 2-3 HOURS. REF A ALSO REPORTED
THAT ANOTHER GROUP OF ABOUT 25 UBCV BUDDHISTS WHOM
POLICE HAD PREVENTED FROM ENTERING THE PATRIARCH'S
PAGODA REMAINED IN QUANG NGAI AND WERE CONSIDERING
STAGING PUBLIC DEMONSTRATIONS. INFORMATION OBTAINED ON
JUNE 14 INDICATES THAT MOST, IF NOT ALL, OF THE
BUDDHISTS WHO HAD TRAVELED FROM HUE TO QUANG NGAI HAVE
RETURNED TO HUE AND ARE NOT PLANNING ANY FURTHER
PROVOCATIVE ACTIONS.

3. (SBU) THICH THAI HOA AND THICH THIEN HANH EACH LED A
GROUP OF BUDDHISTS FROM HUE TO QUANG NGAI. (NOTE:
THICH THAI HOA AT THE TU HIEU PAGODA IN HUE WAS ONE OF
THE MOST CAREFULLY WATCHED UBCV MONKS. THAT HE WAS
ABLE TO ACTUALLY GET OUT AND LEAD A GROUP ALL THE WAY
TO QUANG NGAI WAS QUITE A FEAT. END NOTE.) THICH CHI
THANH AND THICH CHAN TRI (REF A MISSPELLED HIS NAME AS
THICH TRAN CHI) ALSO ORGANIZED GROUPS, BUT DID NOT
ACTUALLY TRAVEL TO QUANG NGAI THEMSELVES. POLICE IN
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 04 HO CHI 00734 01 OF 02 150909Z
HUE REPEATEDLY HAVE CALLED IN ALL FOUR OF THESE MONKS
FOR INTERROGATION SESSIONS OVER THE PAST FEW DAYS, BUT
HAVE NOT PLACED ANY OF THEM UNDER ARREST.

4. (SBU) POLOFF CALLED THE TU HIEU PAGODA JUNE 14, AND
ASKED TO SPEAK WITH THICH THAI HOA. THE PERSON WHO
ANSWERED THE PHONE SAID THAT THAI HOA WAS AT THE POLICE
STATION, AND THAT HE HAS BEEN HELD THERE FOR
QUESTIONING ALL DAY FOR THE PAST TWO DAYS, BUT ALLOWED
TO RETURN TO THE PAGODA AT NIGHT.

5. (SBU) POLOFF WAS ABLE TO REACH THICH CHAN TRI AT THE
THIEN LAM PAGODA. REF A REPORTED THAT POLICE HAD
CALLED HIM IN AT 1:00 A.M. ON JUNE 7, JUST A FEW HOURS
BEFORE 60 MONKS, NUNS AND SUPPORTERS ASSEMBLED AT HIS
PAGODA TO TRAVEL TO QUANG NGAI. ON THE TELEPHONE, CHAN
TRI SEEMED NERVOUS AND HESITATED SEVERAL TIMES DURING
THE CONVERSATION. HE SAID THAT "SOMEONE" HAD COME TO
HIS PAGODA AT 1:00 A.M. ON JUNE 7 TO TELL HIM HIS
MOTHER WAS SICK, HE HAD GONE TO HER HOME - NOT TO THE
POLICE STATION - AND THAT WAS WHY HE DID NOT JOIN THE
DELEGATION TO QUANG NGAI. HE ALSO SAID THE ATMOSPHERE
IN HUE WAS MUCH CALMER TODAY THAN IT HAD BEEN A FEW
DAYS BEFORE.

6. (SBU) POLOFF ALSO REACHED THICH CHI THANG AT THE
PHUOC THANH PAGODA. HE BEGAN TO RELATE THAT
AUTHORITIES AT THE PROVINCIAL, DISTRICT, AND HAMLET
LEVEL WERE CONSTANTLY SUMMONING HIM IN FOR QUESTIONING
WHEN LOUD STATIC CAME ON THE LINE. CHI THANG SAID THE
STATIC WAS DUE TO POLICE INTERFERENCE ON THE PHONE
LINE. WE WERE UNABLE TO CARRY ON THE CONVERSATION.
(NOTE: REF B REPORTED THAT THE PHONE LINES AT ALL THREE
OF THE ABOVE PAGODAS HAD BEEN CUT. THAT THE LINES ARE
NOW WORKING AGAIN IS AN IMPROVEMENT, BUT IT IS OBVIOUS
THAT POLICE ARE STILL LISTENING. END NOTE.)

7. (U) ALSO ON JUNE 14, POLOFF SPOKE WITH PENELOPE
FAULKNER OF THE UBCV INFORMATION BUREAU IN PARIS. SHE
SAID THAT IN ADDITION TO THE GROUPS OF BUDDHISTS LISTED
ABOVE AND IN REFTELS WHO HAD ATTEMPTED TO TRAVEL FROM
HUE TO QUANG NGAI, ANOTHER GROUP OF 17 UBCV MONKS
ATTEMPTED TO DEPART HUE ON JUNE 7 BY MOTORCYCLE.
BEFORE THEY LEFT THE CITY LIMITS, HOWEVER, A GROUP OF
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 03 HO CHI 00734 02 OF 02 150909Z
ABOUT 20 YOUNG MEN, ALSO ON MOTORCYCLE, ACCOSTED THEM,
THREATENED THEM, AND EVENTUALLY CHASED THEM BACK TO
THEIR PAGODAS.

QUANG NGAI READY TO MOVE PATRIARCH, BUT NOT TO HCMC
--------------------------------------------- ------

8. (U) FAULKNER ALSO TOLD POLOFF THAT FOR THE PAST TWO
WEEKS, AUTHORITIES IN QUANG NGAI HAVE BEEN PRESSURING
THICH HUYEN QUANG TO SIGN A REQUEST TO MOVE TO A
MONASTERY IN NEIGHBORING BINH DINH PROVINCE. (THE
PATRIARCH HAD BEEN THE HEAD OF THE MONASTERY AT SOME
TIME IN THE PAST.) BINH DINH IS JUST SOUTH OF QUANG
NGAI, STILL SEVERAL HUNDRED MILES FROM HCMC. IT IS
HARDLY LESS ISOLATED THAN QUANG NGAI. THE PATRIARCH
REPORTEDLY REFUSED TO SIGN THE REQUEST.

9. (SBU) IN HCMC, THICH QUANG DO REMAINS UNDER HOUSE
ARREST. HIS PHONES ARE CUT OFF, AND POLICE HAVE
ALLOWED HIM NO VISITORS SINCE THE HOUSE ARREST ORDER
WAS PUT INTO EFFECT ON JUNE 1. ONE UBCV MONK ATTEMPTED
TO VISIT QUANG DO ON JUNE 10. HE ENTERED THE PAGODA,
BUT THE PLAINCLOTHES POLICE WHO GUARD THE STAIRS TO THE
RESIDENCE POLITELY TOLD HIM HE COULD NOT GO UPSTAIRS.

COMMENT
-------

10. (SBU) POLICE SUCCESSFULLY PREVENTED THE UBCV
BUDDHISTS FROM TAKING PATRIARCH THICH HUYEN QUANG TO
HCMC WITHOUT PERMISSION. UBCV MONKS IN HUE CONTINUE TO
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 04 HO CHI 00734 02 OF 02 150909Z
SOUND FRUSTRATED AND RESENTFUL, BUT THEY DO NOT PLAN
ANY FURTHER PROVOCATIVE ACTIONS AT THIS TIME. ALTHOUGH
IT APPEARS SECURITY FORCES HAVE THE SITUATION WELL
UNDER CONTROL, CONCERNS FOR THE HEALTH OF THE PATRIARCH
IS AN ISSUE THAT WON'T JUST GO AWAY. THE GVN COULD
SAVE ITSELF A LOT OF TROUBLE BY SIMPLY MOVING THE 83-
YEAR-OLD MONK TO HCMC, WHERE GOOD MEDICAL TREATMENT IS
AVAILABLE, BEFORE HIS HEALTH STARTS TO FAIL.

RAY

UNCLASSIFIED

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