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Cablegate: Protestants Warned Not to "Cause Problems" at Christmas

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

211131Z Dec 01

2001HOCHI01411 - UNCLASSIFIED

UNCLASSIFIED PTQ4442

PAGE 01 HO CHI 01411 211152Z
ACTION EAP-00

INFO LOG-00 AID-00 AMAD-00 CIAE-00 DODE-00 SRPP-00 EB-00
UTED-00 H-01 TEDE-00 INR-00 IO-00 LAB-01 L-00
NSAE-00 NSCE-00 OIC-02 OPIC-01 PC-01 PRS-00 P-00
SP-00 SS-00 STR-00 TEST-00 TRSE-00 USIE-00 PRM-00
DRL-02 G-00 NFAT-00 SAS-00 /008W
------------------4EEC0B 211153Z /38
FM AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5812
INFO AMEMBASSY HANOI PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH

UNCLAS HO CHI MINH CITY 001411

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/BCLTV AND EAP/PD/MSPEER
DEPARTMENT ALSO FOR DRL/IRF

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM KIRF VM ETMIN HUMANR RELFREE
SUBJECT: PROTESTANTS WARNED NOT TO "CAUSE PROBLEMS" AT CHRISTMAS


1. (SBU) SEVERAL HCMC PROTESTANT "HOUSE CHURCH" LEADERS
TOLD POLOFF ON DECEMBER 19, THAT LOCAL POLICE HAD
CALLED THEM IN INDIVIDUALLY DURING THE WEEK OF DECEMBER
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 02 HO CHI 01411 211152Z
9, TO WARN THEM NOT TO USE CHRISTMAS AS AN OPPORTUNITY
TO "CAUSE PROBLEMS FOR THE GOVERNMENT." THE PROTESTANT
LEADERS SAID THEY INTERPRETED THIS WARNING NOT AS A
PROHIBITION ON RELIGIOUS CHRISTMAS GATHERINGS, BUT
RATHER AS A CAUTION NOT TO CRITICIZE THE GOVERNMENT AT
ANY LARGE PUBLIC GATHERINGS AT CHRISTMAS TIME. THEY
EXPECT TO GO AHEAD WITH A PLANNED GATHERING OF UP TO
1000 PROTESTANTS AT A CATHOLIC CHURCH IN THE CITY WHOSE
PRIESTS HAVE AGREED TO LET THEM "BORROW" THE CHURCH FOR
THE PROTESTANT CHRISTMAS SERVICE.

2. (SBU) THE PROTESTANT LEADERS WERE AWARE THAT ON
DECEMBER 11, SEVERAL PROTESTANT PASTORS FROM VIETNAM'S
CENTRAL HIGHLANDS WERE SUMMONED TO HANOI TO HEAR A
SIMILAR WARNING. THE VIETNAM NEWS AGENCY REPORTED THAT
NATIONAL ASSEMBLY SPEAKER NGUYEN VAN AN HAD ASKED THE
PASTORS TO "CONVEY HIS MERRY CHRISTMAS WISHES TO THE
PROTESTANT COMMUNITY IN THE CENTRAL HIGHLANDS," BUT
ALSO WARNED THEM TO "STAY VIGILANT AND FIGHT BAD
ELEMENTS WHO ABUSE RELIGION TO UNDERMINE NATIONAL
UNITY." SEPARATELY, A RELIABLE PROTESTANT SOURCE TOLD
EMBASSY POLOFF THAT THE GVN COMMITTEE ON RELIGION HAD
SUMMONED SIX CENTRAL HIGHLAND ETHNIC MINORITY LEADERS
OF THE RECENTLY LEGALIZED SOUTHERN EVANGELICAL CHURCH
OF VIETNAM TO HANOI FROM DECEMBER 7-16 FOR MEETINGS
WITH VARIOUS GVN OFFICIALS.

3. (SBU) THE MONTAGNARD FOUNDATION, INC., BASED IN
SOUTH CAROLINA, PUT OUT A PRESS RELEASE THAT INCLUDED A
PLEA TO PRESIDENT BUSH AND THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY
TO MONITOR AN EVENT IN THE CENTRAL HIGHLANDS WHERE
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 03 HO CHI 01411 211152Z
"HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF HILL TRIBE MONTAGNARDS WILL
UNITE IN A PEACEFUL PRAYER VIGIL TO CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS
AND CALL FOR AN END TO MARTIAL LAW BY HANOI'S COMMUNIST
AUTHORITIES AND TO RESPECT HUMAN RIGHTS AND RELIGIOUS
FREEDOM IN VIETNAM." THE MONTAGNARD FOUNDATION
ALLEGEDLY WAS INVOLVED IN ORGANIZING ETHNIC MINORITY
DEMONSTRATIONS IN THE CENTRAL HIGHLANDS LAST FEBRUARY
AND MARCH. A RELIABLE PROTESTANT SOURCE TOLD POLOFF
THAT THE MONTAGNARD FOUNDATION WAS INVOLVED IN
ORGANIZING A PROTESTANT CELEBRATION OF APPROXIMATELY
2000 ETHNIC GIA RAI MINORITY PERSONS IN CHU A THAI
VILLAGE IN GIA LAI PROVINCE LAST CHRISTMAS. (COMMENT:
POST BELIEVES IT IS HIGHLY UNLIKELY THE ETHNIC MINORITY
PROTESTANTS COULD ORGANIZE A SIMILARLY LARGE GATHERING
THIS CHRISTMAS BECAUSE OF THE CONTINUING EMPHASIS ON
SECURITY BY PROVINCIAL AND DISTRICT AUTHORITIES IN THE
AREA. END COMMENT.)

4. (SBU) THE HCMC PROTESTANT LEADERS SAID THEY HAVE
HEARD FROM PROTESTANT PASTORS IN OTHER PROVINCES WHO
HAVE ALSO BEEN WARNED NOT TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF
CHRISTMAS TO "CAUSE PROBLEMS." THEY SAID THEY WERE
UNAWARE OF ANY PLANNED LARGE GATHERING IN THE CENTRAL
HIGHLANDS. THEY EMPHASIZED THAT THEIR OWN CHRISTMAS
SERVICE IN HCMC WILL BE A RELIGIOUS CELEBRATION AND
WILL NOT TOUCH ON POLITICS IN ANY WAY.

YAMAUCHI

UNCLASSIFIED

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