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Cablegate: Researching Religion at the Party School

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

010946Z Jul 02

2002HANOI01653 - UNCLASSIFIED

UNCLASSIFIED PTQ4049

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SRPP-00 DS-00 EB-00 OIGO-00 FBIE-00 UTED-00 VC-00
H-01 TEDE-00 INR-00 IO-00 L-00 VCE-00 NSAE-00
NSCE-00 OIC-02 PRS-00 P-00 SP-00 STR-00 TEST-00
TRSE-00 USIE-00 DSCC-00 PRM-00 DRL-02 G-00 NFAT-00
SAS-00 /005W
------------------C4BF12 011004Z /38
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 6891
INFO AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY
AMEMBASSY BEIJING
AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH
AMEMBASSY VIENTIANE
USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HANOI 001653

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PGOV PINS SOCI VM RELFREE DPOL HUMANR
SUBJECT: RESEARCHING RELIGION AT THE PARTY SCHOOL

REF: HANOI 156

1. (U) SUMMARY. A SEVEN YEAR-OLD CENTER AT THE MAIN PARTY
SCHOOL FOCUSES ON THE ROLE OF RELIGION IN VIETNAMESE HISTORY
AND PRESENT, AND HELPS TO EDUCATE UP-AND-COMING PARTY
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 02 HANOI 01653 01 OF 02 011003Z
MEMBERS AND GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS ABOUT THE "POSITIVE" ROLE
RELIGION CAN PLAY IN VIETNAM'S DEVELOPMENT. ITS OFFICIALS
HAVE PROMISED LATER THIS SUMMER TO PROVIDE DETAILED FEEDBACK
ON THE VIETNAM CHAPTER OF THE INTERNATIONAL RELIGIOUS
FREEDOM REPORT. END SUMMARY.

2. (U) LIKE ITS COUNTERPART TO ANALYZE HUMAN RIGHTS
(REFTEL), THE "CENTER FOR SCIENCE OF BELIEF AND RELIGION"
("TRUNG TAM KHOA HOC VE TIN NGUONG VA TON GIAO," SOMETIMES
TRANSLATED IN OFFICIAL DOCUMENTS AS THE CENTER FOR RELIGIOUS
STUDIES) OF THE HO CHI MINH NATIONAL POLITICAL ACADEMY
DEMONSTRATES THE RECOGNITION OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF
VIETNAM (CPV) THAT IT MUST FACE SENSITIVE ISSUES HEAD ON AND
MUST ALSO TRAIN ITS "BEST AND BRIGHTEST" IN HOW TO IMPLEMENT
OFFICIAL POLICY. POL/C MET ON JUNE 28 WITH THE CENTER'S
DIRECTOR, DR. NGUYEN DUC LU, IN THE EMBASSY'S FIRST CONTACT
WITH THIS CENTER.

3. (U) ACCORDING TO DR. LU, THE ACADEMY ESTABLISHED THE
CENTER IN 1995, AND TASKED IT WITH UNDERTAKING BOTH RESEARCH
AND TRAINING. THE CENTER'S FOURTEEN RESEARCH STAFFERS
CURRENTLY INCLUDE EIGHT WITH DOCTORATES. NONE OF THEM IS A
PRACTITIONER OF ANY MAJOR RELIGION, DR. LU ADMITTED, WHILE
STRESSING THAT SOME OF THEM, LIKE MOST VIETNAMESE, HAVE
"BELIEF" SYSTEMS SUCH AS ANCESTOR WORSHIP (WHICH HE STRESSED
WAS NOT SUPERSTITIOUS). DR. LU CLAIMED THAT CPV POLICY DID
NOT AT ALL PROHIBIT PARTY MEMBERS FROM BEING RELIGIOUS, BUT
AGREED THAT RELIGIOUS CPV MEMBERS WERE "VERY FEW."

4. (U) DR. LU NOTED THAT CPV POLICY TOWARD RELIGION HAD
BECOME MUCH MORE FAVORABLE IN 1990 WITH THE ISSUANCE OF
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 03 HANOI 01653 01 OF 02 011003Z
RESOLUTION 24, WHICH NOTED THAT RELIGION WAS A "LONG-
STANDING PROBLEM" IN VIETNAM, ASSESSED THAT RELIGION COULD
BE A "POSITIVE FORCE" IN BUILDING A "NEW SOCIETY," AND
CONCLUDED THAT RELIGION WAS A "SPIRITUAL NEED" OF SOME
VIETNAMESE CITIZENS. SINCE THAT TIME, CPV POLICY HAS BEEN
TO "RESPECT" RELIGION AND TO UNDERTAKE APPROPRIATE
"MEASURES" TO ENSURE THAT RELIGIOUS BELIEVERS HAD THE
NECESSARY FREEDOM TO WORSHIP. DR. LU STRESSED THAT THE
CPV'S POSITION WAS THAT -- "IF HANDLED WELL" -- RELIGION
COULD BE GOOD FOR SOCIETY AND THE NATION.

5. (U) DR. LU CONFIRMED REPORTS THAT THE CPV WAS TINKERING
WITH ITS POLICY ON RELIGION, BUT DECLINED TO PROVIDE ANY
DETAILS. HE ADMITTED ONLY THAT THE UPDATED POLICY, WHICH
WILL PROBABLY LEAD TO NEW REGULATIONS RATHER THAN A NEW LAW,
WOULD BE "BETTER" AND "MORE CORRECT" THAN EXISTING
LEGISLATION.

6. (U) WHILE NOT OFFERING TO SHARE COPIES OF ANY RECENT
RESEARCH, DR. LU RELUCTANTLY DESCRIBED SOME RECENT TOPICS:
-- HO CHI MINH'S VIEWS ON RELIGION (GENERALLY FAVORABLE,
DR. LU SAID);
-- COMPARATIVE BUDDHISM (I.E., BETWEEN VIETNAM AND OTHER
NATIONS IN SOUTHEAST ASIA);
-- PRACTICES OF ANCESTOR WORSHIP IN VIETNAM;
-- THE NEXUS BETWEEN BUDDHISM AND CULTURE IN VIETNAMESE
HISTORY (HE NOTED THAT THIS LINK WAS NOWADAYS NOT VERY
STRONG);
-- ORGANIZATION AND PRECEPTS OF THE SIX MAJOR RELIGIOUS
GROUPS IN VIETNAM;
-- MARXIST/LENINIST ASSESSMENTS OF THE ROLE OF RELIGION;
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 04 HANOI 01653 01 OF 02 011003Z
-- THE "HUMANITARIAN VALUE" OF RELIGION;
-- RELIGIOUS PRACTICES OF ETHNIC MINORITIES (DR. LU
ADMITTED THAT THERE HAS BEEN VERY LITTLE DONE SO FAR ON THIS
ISSUE, CLAIMING THAT SUCH RESEARCH WAS "DIFFICULT").

7. (U) MOST OF THE TRAINING GIVEN BY THE CENTER FOR
STUDENTS (MID- TO SENIOR-LEVEL PARTY AND GOVERNMENT
OFFICIALS) WAS "PRETTY BASIC," DR. LU SAID. STAFF FROM THE
CENTER USUALLY ONLY LECTURED AS PART OF OTHER, BROADER
COURSES, RATHER THAN OFFERING SPECIALIZED COURSES OF STUDY.
THEIR FOCUS IS ON EXPLAINING THE HISTORY OF CPV VIEWS ON
RELIGION AND THE CURRENT IMPLEMENTATION OF RELIGIOUS POLICY.
HE ADMITTED THAT IT WAS "VERY NECESSARY" FOR ALL CADRES TO
HAVE A GOOD UNDERSTANDING ABOUT THE "PROBLEM" OF RELIGION,
AND THAT MANY DID NOT KNOW ENOUGH ABOUT CPV POLICY. (ONE
BUDDHIST MONK AFFILIATED WITH THE CENTRAL BUDDHIST SANGHA IN
HANOI PREVIOUSLY NOTED TO POL/C THAT HE IS OCCASIONALLY
INVITED TO SPEAK TO STUDENTS AT THE ACADEMY ON THE HISTORY
AND ROLE OF BUDDHISM IN VIETNAM; EMBASSY IS NOT CERTAIN IF
OTHER RELIGIOUS LEADERS ALSO LECTURE OCCASIONALLY.)

8. (U) WHEN ASKED WHETHER HE AND HIS STAFF HAD EVER READ
THE STATE DEPARTMENT'S REPORT ON INTERNATIONAL RELIGIOUS
FREEDOM, DR. LU PULLED OUT A WELL MARKED-UP COPY IN

UNCLASSIFIED

UNCLASSIFIED PTQ4050

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ACTION EAP-00

INFO LOG-00 NP-00 AID-00 ACQ-00 CIAE-00 DODE-00 DOEE-00
SRPP-00 DS-00 EB-00 FBIE-00 UTED-00 VC-00 H-01
TEDE-00 INR-00 IO-00 L-00 VCE-00 NSAE-00 NSCE-00
OIC-02 PRS-00 P-00 SP-00 IRM-00 STR-00 TEST-00
TRSE-00 USIE-00 DSCC-00 PRM-00 DRL-02 G-00 NFAT-00
SAS-00 /005W
------------------C4BF13 011004Z /38
R 010946Z JUL 02
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 6892
INFO AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY
AMEMBASSY BEIJING
AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH
AMEMBASSY VIENTIANE
USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI

UNCLAS SECTION 02 OF 02 HANOI 001653

SIPDIS

VIETNAMESE. NOTING TIME LIMITATIONS, HE DECLINED TO GO INTO
DETAIL. POL/C URGED HIM TO SHARE WITH EMBASSY HIS FEEDBACK,
ESPECIALLY IF THERE ARE FACTUAL ERRORS IN OUR REPORT, AND
DR. LU AGREED TO DO SO AFTER HE RETURNS FROM THE ACADEMY'S
ANNUAL JULY HOLIDAYS.
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 02 HANOI 01653 02 OF 02 011003Z
BURGHARDT

UNCLASSIFIED

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