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Cablegate: Visit with Dissident Tran Van Khue

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


2001HOCHI01083 - UNCLASSIFIED

UNCLASSIFIED PTQ8441

PAGE 01 HO CHI 01083 01 OF 02 200353Z
ACTION EAP-00

INFO LOG-00 NP-00 AID-00 AMAD-00 ACQ-00 CIAE-00 DINT-00
DOTE-00 SRPP-00 DS-00 EB-00 FAAE-00 FBIE-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 IRM-00
SS-00 STR-00 TEST-00 TRSE-00 USIE-00 DSCC-00 PRM-01
DRL-02 G-00 NFAT-00 SAS-00 /008W
------------------21E4D5 200358Z /38
FM AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 5541
INFO AMEMBASSY HANOI
AMEMBASSY CANBERRA
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 001083

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/BCLTV AND EAP/PD/JMARTIN
DEPARTMENT ALSO FOR DRL
DEPARTMENT ALSO FOR INR/EAP/SEA AND INR/IL/B
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 02 HO CHI 01083 01 OF 02 200353Z
CINCPAC FOR FPA
SECDEF FOR ISA/EA/LSTERN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PINR VM DPOL HUMANR
SUBJECT: VISIT WITH DISSIDENT TRAN VAN KHUE

REF: HANOI 02197

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: ON 11 SEPTEMBER, CONGENOFF MADE AN
UNANNOUNCED CALL AT THE RESIDENCE OF MR. TRAN VAN KHUE,
THE CO-DRAFTER OF A REQUEST TO THE VIETNAMESE
GOVERNMENT TO ESTABLISH A "PEOPLE'S ASSOCIATION" TO
HELP FIGHT CORRUPTION. KHUE AND SEVERAL OTHER PERSONS
IN HANOI INVOLVED WITH THIS REQUEST WERE RECENTLY
SUBJECT TO QUESTIONING AND HARASSMENT BY THE POLICE
(REFTEL). KHUE HAS NOT BEEN ARRESTED, BUT HAS BEEN
SUBJECT TO TWICE-DAILY INTERROGATION SESSIONS BY LOCAL
AUTHORITIES SINCE HIS EXPULSION FROM HANOI ON 5
SEPTEMBER. KHUE'S PHONE LINE HAS BEEN CUT AND HIS
COMPUTER CONFISCATED. HE STATED THAT THE POLICE MAY
CHARGE HIM WITH ATTEMPTING TO CREATE AN ANTI-GOVERNMENT
ASSOCIATION. THE CONVERSATION TOOK PLACE WITHOUT
INTERFERENCE OR PARTICIPATION BY POLICE, AND ENDED
AFTER ONE HOUR WHEN KHUE WAS SUMMONED FOR HIS AFTERNOON
QUESTIONING SESSION. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) KHUE TOLD CONGENOFF HE HAD TRAVELED TO HANOI
FROM HIS HOME IN HCMC ON 22 JULY TO MEET WITH SEVERAL
OTHER ACTIVISTS WHO REPORTEDLY WERE QUESTIONED BY
POLICE IN HANOI ON SEPTEMBER 5 IN RELATION TO THE
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 03 HO CHI 01083 01 OF 02 200353Z
REQUEST TO FORM A "PEOPLE'S ASSOCIATION." (PRESS
ACCOUNTS REPORTED THAT POLICE BROUGHT IN AS MANY AS 15
PERSONS FOR QUESTIONING REGARDING KHUE'S LETTER). KHUE
IS THE ONLY SOUTHERNER AMONG THEM, ALTHOUGH HE CLAIMS
THAT "MANY PEOPLE" AT THE SOCIAL SCIENCE INSTITUTE IN
HCMC WHERE HE FORMERLY WORKED SUPPORT THEIR CAUSE.
WHEN ASKED ABOUT HOW HE HAD COME TO KNOW THE
INDIVIDUALS IN HANOI, KHUE WAS VAGUE. HE STATED THAT
THEY HAD KNOWN EACH OTHER FOR A LONG TIME: "THEY VISIT
ME, I VISIT THEM." HE WOULD NOT ELABORATE ON THE
NUMBER OF PERSONS HE HAD MET WITH IN HANOI GROUP OR
NAME ANY OTHER INDIVIDUALS IN THE SOUTH ASSOCIATED WITH
THE REQUEST.

3. (SBU) AS REPORTED IN REFTEL, WHILE IN HANOI, KHUE
AND PHAM QUE DUONG WROTE A REQUEST DATED SEPTEMBER 2 TO
THE PRIME MINISTER, PARTY SECRETARY, AND PRESIDENT FOR
PERMISSION TO ESTABLISH A "PEOPLE'S ASSOCIATION"
AGAINST CORRUPTION. KHUE ALSO WROTE A FLIER FOR PUBLIC
DISTRIBUTION DESCRIBING THE PEOPLE'S ASSOCIATION AND
RECRUITING MEMBERS. THE FLIER WAS DISTRIBUTED ON
NATIONAL DAY, 2 SEPTEMBER, IN HANOI AND THE NORTHERN
PROVINCES, HE SAID, SPECIFICALLY MENTIONING THAI BINH
AND HAI DUONG PROVINCES. (NOTE: THAI BINH PROVINCE WAS
THE SITE OF SIGNIFICANT DEMONSTRATIONS AGAINST LOCAL
GOVERNMENT CORRUPTION IN 1997, AND REMAINS A TINDERBOX
OF SORTS ON THIS PARTICULAR ISSUE. END NOTE.) IT IS
NOT CLEAR HOW MANY OF THE FLIERS WERE DISTRIBUTED OR
THE EXTENT OF THEIR DISTRIBUTION. ACCORDING TO KHUE,
DUONG ALSO POSTED THE REQUEST LETTER ON THE INTERNET AT
WWW.THONGLUAN.COM. (CONGENOFFS HAVE BEEN UNABLE TO
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 04 HO CHI 01083 01 OF 02 200353Z
ACCESS THIS SITE. APPARENTLY THE GOVERNMENT HAS
ALREADY BLOCKED IT WITH A FIREWALL.) KHUE SAID THAT ON
5 SEPTEMBER, THREE POLICE OFFICERS ESCORTED HIM TO THE
AIRPORT IN HANOI AND PUT HIM ON A PLANE BACK TO HCMC.

4. (SBU) ACCORDING TO KHUE, WHEN HE ARRIVED BACK IN
HCMC, THE LOCAL POLICE SEARCHED HIS HOME AND
CONFISCATED HIS COMPUTER AND THE FLIERS HE HAD BROUGHT
BACK WITH HIM. EVERY DAY SINCE 6 SEPTEMBER, THE POLICE
HAVE COLLECTED HIM AT 8 A.M. AND QUESTIONED HIM UNTIL
11 A.M., AND AGAIN FROM 3-5 P.M. THE QUESTIONS FOCUS
ON HIS PERSONAL ASSOCIATIONS AND THE PURPOSE OF THE
PEOPLE'S ASSOCIATION HE IS ADVOCATING. KHUE HAS NOT
HEARD DIRECTLY FROM HIS COMPATRIOTS IN THE NORTH AS HIS
PHONE LINE HAS BEEN CUT, AND DOES NOT KNOW THEIR
WHEREABOUTS, OR THOSE OF THE UNNAMED INDIVIDUALS WHO
DISTRIBUTED THE FLIERS IN THE NORTHERN PROVINCES. KHUE
MENTIONED HEARING AN RFI RADIO BROADCAST ON 10
SEPTEMBER WHICH REPORTED ON THE INVESTIGATIONS OF HIS
COMPATRIOTS AND INCLUDED AN INTERVIEW WITH ONE OF "THE
FOUNDERS" OF THE ASSOCIATION, NGUYEN THANH GIANG. HE
ADDED THAT HE HAD RECEIVED LETTERS FROM "PROVINCES,
CITIES AND OVERSEAS" IN SUPPORT OF THE ASSOCIATION.


5. (SBU) CONGENOFF ASKED KHUE WHY THE GOVERNMENT WAS SO
SUSPICIOUS OF HIM AND HIS PROPOSED ASSOCIATION. KHUE
RESPONDED IRONICALLY THAT THE GOVERNMENT WANTS "TO KEEP
A MONOPOLY ON FIGHTING CORRUPTION." AND ACCORDING TO
KHUE, WHILE THE VIETNAMESE CONSTITUTION STATES THAT ANY
INDIVIDUAL MAY CREATE A REGISTERED ASSOCIATION, THE
REALITY IS VERY DIFFERENT. KHUE AND DUONG ALSO
ADVOCATED FOR AN INDEPENDENT "ANTI-CORRUPTION
NEWSPAPER" IN THEIR REQUEST.

6. (SBU) KHUE MAINTAINS THAT HE HAS BEEN WRONGLY
ACCUSED AND THAT HIS EXPULSION FROM HANOI AND
INVESTIGATION BY THE POLICE "VIOLATE THE CONSTITUTION."
HE CLAIMS THAT THE POLICE ARE SEEKING TO CHARGE HIM
WITH WHAT AMOUNTS TO TREASON: THE FOUNDING OF AN ANTI-
GOVERNMENT ASSOCIATION. HE STATES FURTHER THAT IF HE
AND THE OTHERS ARE BROUGHT TO TRIAL, THEY WILL "SUE THE
MINISTRY OF PUBLIC SECURITY." BUT KHUE ADDED THAT HE
BELIEVES THAT IN THE END AUTHORITIES WILL NOT BRING HIM
AND THE OTHERS TO TRIAL BECAUSE, HE SAID, "WE WILL MAKE
OUR CASE BEFORE THE PEOPLE."

7. (SBU) THE MEETING TOOK PLACE IN THE BACK OF AN
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 03 HO CHI 01083 02 OF 02 200353Z
ADVERTISING AGENCY RUN BY HIS NEPHEW ON A BUSY
COMMERCIAL STREET IN HCMC'S DISTRICT FIVE. DURING THE
MEETING HIS SON CAME INTO THE BACK ROOM AND ASKED HIS
FATHER IF IT WAS SAFE FOR HIM TO BE TALKING TO US.
KHUE ASSURED HIM IT WAS. THE MEETING ENDED AFTER ONE
HOUR WITH THE ARRIVAL OF A LOCAL UNIFORMED POLICE
OFFICER WHO SMILED AND SHOOK KHUE'S HAND. BEHIND THE
OFFICER WERE TWO MEN IN PLAINCLOTHES. KHUE INFORMED
CONGENOFF THAT HE WOULD NOW BE RETURNING TO THE POLICE
STATION FOR QUESTIONING.

BIONOTE
-------

8. (SBU) KHUE WAS PREVIOUSLY UNKNOWN TO CONGEN. HE
WORKED AT THE SOCIAL SCIENCES INSTITUTE IN HCMC AS A
RESEARCHER UNTIL HE RETIRED IN 1996. DURING THE
MEETING HE BROUGHT OUT ONE OF THE BOOKS HE HAS
AUTHORED, A COLLECTION OF CULTURAL ESSAYS PUBLISHED IN
1996. KHUE STUDIED THE HUMANITIES AT THE PEOPLE'S
UNIVERSITY IN HANOI AND GRADUATED IN 1955. PRIOR TO
WORKING AT THE SOCIAL SCIENCES INSTITUTE, HE TAUGHT AT
THE PEDAGOGICAL COLLEGE IN HCMC. KHUE WAS QUIETLY
INTENSE DURING THE MEETING, ANSWERING CONGENOFF'S
QUESTIONS BUT NOT MAKING ANY STATEMENTS INDEPENDENT OF
THE QUESTIONS.

COMMENT
-------

9. (SBU) COMMENT: KHUE'S IDEAS SEEM TO POST TO BE
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 04 HO CHI 01083 02 OF 02 200353Z
REFORMIST, RATHER THAN RADICAL. IN VIETNAM, HOWEVER,
THE MANNER IN WHICH PERSONS EXPRESS THEIR OPINIONS IS
AS IMPORTANT AS THE OPINIONS EXPRESSED. KHUE'S ACTIONS
- HIS REQUEST TO ESTABLISH A "PEOPLE'S ASSOCIATION" AND
THE DISTRIBUTION OF FLIERS RECRUITING SUPPORT IN
SENSITIVE PROVINCES ON VIETNAM'S NATIONAL DAY -
APPARENTLY HAVE TESTED THE LIMITS OF OFFICIAL
TOLERANCE.

WHITE

UNCLASSIFIED

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