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Cablegate: The Dilemma of the Central Highlands

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

230936Z Dec 02

UNCLASSIFIED PTQ1265

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UTED-00 VC-00 HHS-01 H-01 TEDE-00 INR-00 IO-00
L-00 VCE-00 AC-01 DCP-01 NSAE-00 NSCE-00 OIC-02
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FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8448
INFO AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY
AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH
AMEMBASSY VIENTIANE
USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 HANOI 003055

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STATE FOR EAP/BCLTV AND DRL

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PGOV PINS PREL SOCI VM HUMANR ETMIN RELFREE
SUBJECT: THE DILEMMA OF THE CENTRAL HIGHLANDS

REF: HANOI 2975

UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 02 HANOI 03055 01 OF 04 231019Z

1. (U) THIS IS A JOINT EMBASSY/CONGEN MESSAGE.

2. (SBU) SUMMARY: THE REAL STORY OF THE CENTRAL HIGHLANDS
IS A LONG-TERM STRUGGLE FOR MODERNIZATION AND DEVELOPMENT IN
A REGION DEFINED BY ETHNIC RESENTMENT, ECONOMIC IMBALANCE,
POVERTY AND ISOLATION, LAND ISSUES, RELIGIOUS DIFFERENCES,
INTOLERANCE OF POLITICAL ACTIVITY, AND AN ALMOST XENOPHOBIC
FEAR OF OUTSIDE INFLUENCE. BY THE STANDARDS OF THE GVN AND
CPV, THIS DEVELOPMENT HAS NECESSITATED AND WILL CONTINUE TO
INVOLVE TOP-DOWN CONTROL, FORCED ECONOMIC DECISIONS THAT ARE
SOMETIMES UNWISE, AND HEAVY-HANDED ORGANIZATIONAL EFFORTS
THAT LEAVE TOO LITTLE SCOPE FOR TRADITIONAL PRACTICES AND
VALUES, AS WELL AS FOR RELIGIOUS WORSHIP OUTSIDE THE CONTEXT
OF "LEGAL" RELIGIOUS BODIES.

3. (SBU) HOWEVER, WE DO NOT/NOT BELIEVE THAT THERE IS ANY
SYSTEMATIC EFFORT TO PERSECUTE THE ETHNIC MINORITIES IN
THESE AREAS, NOR TO WIPE OUT RELIGIOUS BELIEF, INCLUDING THE
PROTESTANT FAITH. PERIODIC UNREST, ONGOING ALLEGATIONS OF
POLITICAL AND RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION OF ETHNIC MINORITIES,
AND NUMEROUS INSTANCES OF BAD GOVERNANCE IN THE CENTRAL
HIGHLANDS CONTINUE TO RAISE CONCERNS WITHIN THE USG AND
AMONG INTERNATIONAL OBSERVERS, BUT ARE NOT ALL THAT
DIFFERENT FROM SIMILAR PROBLEMS IN OTHER PARTS OF THE
COUNTRY. GVN OFFICIALS WILL CONTINUE TO HAVE DEEP
SUSPICIONS OF THE SEPARATIST GOALS OF SOME INDIVIDUALS AND
GROUPS, NOTABLY THE "DEGAS," AND ARE NOT ENTIRELY OFF THE
MARK WHEN DESCRIBING "PLOTS" BY OUTSIDE AGITATORS. WHILE
USG INFLUENCE MAY BE LIMITED, WE MUST CONTINUE TO PRESS FOR
HOLDING GVN AND CPV OFFICIALS ACCOUNTABLE FOR CREDIBLE
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 03 HANOI 03055 01 OF 04 231019Z
INSTANCES OF HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES AND FOR GREATER
INTERNATIONAL ACCESS. ACCURATE INFORMATION IS OFTEN
LOGISTICALLY IMPOSSIBLE TO OBTAIN. THE BOTTOM LINE WILL
REMAIN THAT NOT MUCH IS LIKELY TO CHANGE VERY QUICKLY IN THE
CENTRAL HIGHLANDS, FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE. END SUMMARY.

4. (U) THE 2001 AND 2002 HUMAN RIGHTS REPORTS AND
INTERNATIONAL RELIGIOUS FREEDOM REPORTS FOR VIETNAM
HIGHLIGHT THE EXTENT TO WHICH PROBLEMS IN THE CENTRAL
HIGHLANDS REMAIN A KEY ISSUE OF CONCERN BOTH FOR THE USG AND
FOR THE GVN. SOME OF THOSE PROBLEMS INCLUDE THE
FEBRUARY/MARCH 2001 DEMONSTRATIONS AND SUBSEQUENT FLIGHT OF
ABOUT 1,000 MONTAGNARDS TO CAMBODIA, THE COLLAPSE OF A UNHCR-
BROKERED PROGRAM OF VOLUNTARY REPATRIATION IN FEBRUARY 2002,
CONTINUED HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSE ALLEGATIONS (PHYSICAL
MISTREATMENT, DEPRIVATION OF POLITICAL RIGHTS, FORCED
RENUNCIATION OF RELIGIOUS FAITH, CLOSURE OF CHURCHES, ETHNIC
DISCRIMINATION), CREDIBLE REPORTS OF CORRUPTION AND BAD
GOVERNANCE BY GVN OFFICIALS, AND DISPUTES OVER LAND. TO A
LARGE DEGREE, HOWEVER, TODAY'S PROBLEMS ARE NOT ENTIRELY
NEW, BUT RATHER REFLECT THE HISTORICAL STRAINS OF DAILY LIFE
IN FOUR OF THE POOREST, MOST ISOLATED PROVINCES IN VIETNAM:
DAK LAK, GIA LAI, KON TUM, AND LAM DONG.

--------------------------------------------- ---
A COMPLEX MIX OF HISTORY, CULTURE, AND ECONOMICS
--------------------------------------------- ---

5. (SBU) CONDITIONS IN THE CENTRAL HIGHLANDS DO NOT LEND
THEMSELVES TO A SNAPSHOT APPROACH. THE ETHNIC MINORITIES
ARE NOT MONOLITHIC, DESPITE THE MISLEADING APPELLATION OF
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 04 HANOI 03055 01 OF 04 231019Z
"MONTAGNARDS" TO THESE VARIOUS GROUPS. THEIR INTERACTIONS
WITH THE GVN VARY, AS DO THEIR LEVELS OF INTEGRATION, THEIR
WILLINGNESS TO SIGN ON TO THE GVN'S AND CPV'S CAMPAIGNS AND
EFFORTS, THEIR DEGREE OF RELIGIOUS FAITH AND TYPE OF BELIEF,
ETC. NOR ARE ACROSS-THE-BOARD CHARACTERIZATIONS OF GVN
PERFORMANCE POSSIBLE. THERE ARE MANY WELL-MEANING,
COMPETENT OFFICIALS WORKING TO BETTER THE LIVES OF THESE
CITIZENS UNDER VERY DIFFICULT CONDITIONS AND WITH TOO FEW
RESOURCES, JUST AS THERE ARE ILL INFORMED, PREJUDICED,
AND/OR CORRUPT OFFICIALS WHO CAN ALL TOO EASILY EXERCISE
ARBITRARY POWER TO MAKE THE LIVES OF THESE CITIZENS EVEN
MORE DIFFICULT.

6. (SBU) CURRENT CONDITIONS IN THE CENTRAL HIGHLANDS ARE
FUELED BY LONG-STANDING RESENTMENTS BETWEEN THE ETHNIC
MINORITIES AND THE MAJORITY KINH, AS WELL AS BY POVERTY,
ISOLATION, INADEQUATE PUBLIC SERVICES, AND A GENERAL LACK OF
OPPORTUNITY AND CHOICE. COMPLICATING THE MIX ARE RELIGIOUS
FACTORS, PROPERTY ISSUES, LOCAL CORRUPTION, AND OUTSIDE
INFLUENCES. THESE FOUR PROVINCES ARE AMONG THE POOREST IN
VIETNAM AND HAVE NEVER IN HISTORY BEEN FULLY INTEGRATED INTO
THE BODY POLITIC. ISOLATED BY DISTANCE, AND INCREASINGLY IN
TERMS OF ACCESS TO INFORMATION ON EVENTS AND DEVELOPMENTS
OUTSIDE THE REGION, THE CENTRAL HIGHLANDS CONTINUE TO LAG
BEHIND MOST OF THE REST OF VIETNAM. THE DRAMATIC DECLINE IN

UNCLASSIFIED

UNCLASSIFIED PTQ1266

PAGE 01 HANOI 03055 02 OF 04 231019Z
ACTION EAP-00

INFO LOG-00 NP-00 AID-00 AMAD-00 ACQ-00 CIAE-00 DINT-00
DODE-00 DOEE-00 SRPP-00 DS-00 EB-00 ED-01 FBIE-00
UTED-00 VC-00 HHS-01 H-01 TEDE-00 INR-00 IO-00
L-00 VCE-00 AC-01 DCP-01 NSAE-00 NSCE-00 OIC-02
OMB-01 OPIC-01 PA-00 PM-00 PRS-00 ACE-00 P-00
SP-00 SSO-00 STR-00 TEST-00 TRSE-00 USIE-00 PMB-00
DSCC-00 PRM-00 DRL-02 G-00 NFAT-00 SAS-00 /011W
------------------1BB29B 231019Z /38
O 230936Z DEC 02
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8449
INFO AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY
AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH
AMEMBASSY VIENTIANE
USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI

UNCLAS SECTION 02 OF 04 HANOI 003055

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

STATE FOR EAP/BCLTV AND DRL

WORLD COMMODITY PRICES, SUCH AS COFFEE AND PEPPER, HAS
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 02 HANOI 03055 02 OF 04 231019Z
DASHED WHAT HAD BEEN RISING EXPECTATIONS VIS--VIS LOCAL
ECONOMIC PROSPECTS. TENSIONS BETWEEN THE LOWLAND VIETNAMESE
KINH AND MANY ETHNIC MINORITY HIGHLANDERS ARE ANOTHER
HISTORICAL FACT, PREDATING WESTERN INVOLVEMENT IN VIETNAM.

7. (SBU) EXACERBATING THAT VOLATILE MIX OF ISSUES ARE
PERCEIVED THREATS TO CULTURAL IDENTITY AND MAJORITY STATUS
BORNE OF INTERNAL MIGRATION PATTERNS, AS ECONOMIC MIGRANTS
HAVE MOVED INTO THE REGION FROM PROVINCES IN THE NORTH AND
ALONG THE CENTRAL COAST SINCE 1975. RIGHTLY OR NOT, CENTRAL
HIGHLANDERS OFTEN VIEW THE VIETNAMESE KINH AS COMPETITORS IN
A ZERO SUM GAME. TRANSFORMATION OF TRADITIONAL COMMUNAL
LANDS (ALMOST NEVER WITH ANY FORMAL TITLE DEEDS) INTO
DESIGNATED PLOTS FOR THE MIGRANTS FURTHER CREATED
ANIMOSITIES, BOTH AGAINST THE NEW ARRIVALS AND AGAINST THE
SOMETIMES CORRUPT GVN OFFICIALS IMPLEMENTING THESE PROGRAMS.
MANY OF THESE CONFLICTS WERE PROBABLY UNAVOIDABLE BY-
PRODUCTS OF AN OFTEN BADLY RUN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PROCESS
GRAPPLING WITH SOMETIMES PRE-MODERN ETHNIC GROUPS. IN THE
VIEW OF SOME OF THE ETHNIC GROUPS, HOWEVER, SUCH PROCESSES
ARE ILL-DISGUISED ATTEMPTS TO ELIMINATE MINORITY CULTURE.

-------------------
THE RELIGIOUS ANGLE
-------------------

8. (SBU) THE MAJORITY OF GVN AND CPV OFFICIALS PROFESS NO
RELIGIOUS BELIEF, WHILE PERHAPS MOST VIETNAMESE KINH ARE AT
LEAST NOMINALLY BUDDHIST. MANY OF THE ETHNIC MINORITIES IN
THE CENTRAL HIGHLANDS -- PARTICULARLY THOSE WHO FLED TO
CAMBODIA IN THE AFTERMATH OF LAST YEAR'S UNREST -- ARE
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 03 HANOI 03055 02 OF 04 231019Z
PROTESTANT, WHILE OTHERS ARE CATHOLIC AND SOME REMAIN
ANIMIST. IN RECENT DISCUSSIONS WITH EMBASSY OFFICERS, GVN
OFFICIALS HAVE CONTENDED THAT THESE ANIMIST BELIEFS ARE A
"TRADITIONAL CULTURE" THAT MUST BE SAFEGUARDED AGAINST
"FOREIGN" INTRUSIONS OF PROTESTANTISM.

9. (SBU) MANY OF THE PROTESTANTS IN THE CENTRAL HIGHLANDS
ARE FAIRLY RECENT CONVERTS, AS EVANGELISTS -- SOME LOCAL,
SOME BASED OVERSEAS -- INCREASINGLY CANVASS THE AREA. THESE
PROTESTANTS USUALLY WORSHIP IN "HOUSE CHURCHES" THAT ARE NOT
AFFILIATED WITH ANY OF THE OFFICIAL GVN-RECOGNIZED RELIGIOUS
BODIES. AS SUCH, THEIR ACTIVITIES ARE TECHNICALLY ILLEGAL.
ALTHOUGH THE GVN OFTEN TACITLY TOLERATES THEIR ACTIVITIES,
OFFICIALS MAY ABRUPTLY LOWER THE BOOM IN REACTION TO
SPECIFIC EVENTS OR INDIVIDUAL WHIM. THE GVN AND CPV TEND TO
ASSUME THAT SUCH "ILLEGAL ACTIVITIES" MAY HAVE A COVERT
POLITICAL AGENDA, SUCH AS UNDERMINING STATE AUTHORITY OR
"DESTROYING NATIONAL SOLIDARITY." THE LINKS OF SOME OF
THESE GROUPS IN THE CENTRAL HIGHLANDS WITH FOREIGN RELIGIOUS
INDIVIDUALS AND GROUPS ONLY HEIGHTEN SUCH SUSPICIONS, AS
RELIGION IS OFTEN SEEN BY THE GVN AS PARTICULARLY
SUSCEPTIBLE TO OUTSIDE INFLUENCE.

10. (SBU) ONE DILEMMA GVN OFFICIALS FACE IS HOW TO
DISTINGUISH BETWEEN THE AUTONOMY/INDEPENDENCE-MINDED "DEGA"
PROTESTANTS AND MORE MAINSTREAM PROTESTANTS SEEKING MERELY
TO PRACTICE THEIR RELIGION AND ORGANIZE THEMSELVES FREELY
INTO RELIGIOUS COMMUNITIES. REPORTS OF DEGA PROTESTANTS
INFILTRATING THEMSELVES INTO MAINSTREAM CONGREGATIONS
COMPLICATE THE SITUATION THAT MUCH FURTHER. AGAIN, THERE
APPEAR CLEARLY TO BE FOREIGN AGITATORS ENCOURAGING THE DREAM
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 04 HANOI 03055 02 OF 04 231019Z
OF A "DEGA" STATE AS WELL AS RESISTANCE TO ANYTHING SMACKING
OF INTEGRATION WITH OTHER ETHNIC MINORITIES, MUCH LESS THE
MAJORITY KINH. THE GVN IS NOT ENTIRELY OFF THE MARK IN
MAKING THESE CLAIMS.

11. (SBU) WE HAVE NO CONCRETE EVIDENCE OF A SUSTAINED OR
SYSTEMATIC GOVERNMENT EFFORT INTENDED TO PERSECUTE EITHER
ETHNIC MINORITIES IN GENERAL OR PROTESTANTS MORE
SPECIFICALLY. MOREOVER, WE BELIEVE MORE SCRUTINY MUST BE
GIVEN TO VERIFY OF THE AUTHENTICITY OF DOCUMENTS IN
CIRCULATION BOTH IN VIETNAM AND OVERSEAS THAT PURPORT TO
DESCRIBE SUCH FORMAL GVN CAMPAIGNS. WE ARE PARTICULARLY
CONCERNED THAT MANY OF THE ALLEGATIONS OF PERSECUTION WE
RECEIVE MAY BE EXAGGERATED, OR GENERATED BY A SMALL NUMBER
OF INDIVIDUALS IN A CIRCULAR FASHION.

-----------------------
WHAT DOES THE GVN WANT?
-----------------------

12. (SBU) AS ELSEWHERE IN VIETNAM, INCLUDING OTHER AREAS
WITH SIGNIFICANT ETHNIC MINORITY POPULATIONS (REFTEL), THE
GVN AND CPV FIRST AND FOREMOST WANT TO ASSERT THEIR CONTROL,
ENSURE THEIR CONTINUED LEADERSHIP MONOPOLY, AND CREATE
CONDITIONS OF "POLITICAL STABILITY." THEY ARE -- AT LEAST

UNCLASSIFIED

UNCLASSIFIED PTQ1270

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INFO LOG-00 NP-00 AID-00 AMAD-00 ACQ-00 CIAE-00 DINT-00
DODE-00 DOEE-00 SRPP-00 DS-00 EB-00 ED-01 FBIE-00
UTED-00 VC-00 HHS-01 H-01 TEDE-00 INR-00 IO-00
L-00 VCE-00 AC-01 DCP-01 NSAE-00 NSCE-00 OIC-02
OMB-01 OPIC-01 PA-00 PM-00 PRS-00 ACE-00 P-00
SP-00 SSO-00 STR-00 TEST-00 TRSE-00 USIE-00 PMB-00
DSCC-00 PRM-00 DRL-02 G-00 NFAT-00 SAS-00 /011W
------------------1BB2AC 231020Z /38
O 230936Z DEC 02
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8450
INFO AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY
AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH
AMEMBASSY VIENTIANE
USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI

UNCLAS SECTION 03 OF 04 HANOI 003055

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

STATE FOR EAP/BCLTV AND DRL

SINCE 1986 THROUGHOUT VIETNAM AND ESPECIALLY SINCE 2001 IN
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 02 HANOI 03055 03 OF 04 231020Z
THE CENTRAL HIGHLANDS IN PARTICULAR -- ALSO COMMITTED TO
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, MODERNIZATION, AND INTEGRATION OF
VIETNAM INTO THE REGION AND THE INTERNATIONAL ECONOMY.
THEIR PROGRAMS IN THE CENTRAL HIGHLANDS REFLECT THESE GOALS,
BUT EMPLOY A HEAVY COMPONENT OF REPRESENTATION FROM THE CPV,
THE PUBLIC SECURITY FORCES, AND THE ARMED FORCES TO CREATE
AND MAINTAIN PUBLIC ORDER AND COMMUNIST RULE.

13. (SBU) AT THE SAME TIME, NEWER ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS --
INCLUDING THE OFTEN ILL-CONCEIVED EFFORTS TO CREATE LARGE
PLANTATIONS FOR CASH-CROPS AS WELL AS NEW POTS OF MONEY
AVAILABLE FOR MOUNTAINOUS AREAS UNDER PROGRAM 135 -- ARE
WELL-INTENTIONED (IF NOT ALWAYS WELL-IMPLEMENTED) EFFORTS
AIMED AT PROMOTING ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND IMPROVING THE
LIVES OF THESE CITIZENS. SOME WORK BETTER THAN OTHERS.
INFRASTRUCTURE HAS BEEN IMPROVED, ALTHOUGH NEW ROADS OFTEN
BRING NEW MIGRANTS, NEW COMPETITION FOR LAND, AND NEW
ENVIRONMENTAL THREATS. NEW SCHOOLS AND HEALTH CLINICS
PROVIDE BETTER LIVING STANDARDS, BUT OFTEN WORK TOWARD
ASSIMILATION, NOT THE PRESERVATION OF CULTURAL HERITAGE.
ELECTRIFICATION AND CLEAN WATER PROGRAMS ARE PART AND PARCEL
WITH SIMILAR GVN EFFORTS ELSEWHERE, BUT IN THESE REMOTE
LOCATIONS ALSO SOMETIMES CREATE NEW FINANCIAL BURDENS FOR
ALREADY POOR FAMILIES. THE GVN DESERVES SOME CREDIT FOR
WHAT IT IS TRYING TO DO, EVEN IF RESULTS ARE UNEVEN. STILL,
MANY OF THESE PROGRAMS RELY ON TRADITIONAL COMMUNIST TOP-
DOWN TACTICS THAT RARELY LEAD TO SUSTAINED SUCCESS.

----------------------
CENTER VS. LOCAL NEXUS
----------------------
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 03 HANOI 03055 03 OF 04 231020Z

14. (SBU) ONE OF THE KEYS TO UNDERSTANDING THE CENTRAL
HIGHLANDS IS WHETHER THE CRUCIAL DECISIONS ARE MADE AT THE
NATIONAL OR LOCAL LEVEL. THE REALITY PROBABLY LIES
SOMEWHERE IN BETWEEN, WITH DECISIONS MADE BY EITHER OR BOTH,
DEPENDING ON THE MATTER TO BE DECIDED. CLEARLY, OVERALL
POLICY -- GOOD OR BAD -- IS SET IN HANOI. ALSO CLEARLY,
OFFICIALS ON THE GROUND IN THE CENTRAL HIGHLANDS FREQUENTLY
IMPLEMENT POLICY BADLY. IN OTHER CASES, THEY UNDERTAKE
ACTIONS THAT MAY GO AGAINST NATIONAL POLICY. WE DO NOT
BELIEVE, FOR EXAMPLE, THAT IT IS GVN POLICY TO BEAT PEOPLE
UP (ALTHOUGH WE KNOW IT HAPPENS, AND NOT ONLY IN THE CENTRAL
HIGHLANDS) OR HARASS RELIGIOUS BELIEVERS (NOT ONLY IN THE
CENTRAL HIGHLANDS), BUT THIS HAPPENS, TOO. WE DO NOT
BELIEVE IT IS GVN POLICY TO DISPOSSESS CITIZENS OF THEIR
LAND, BUT IT HAPPENS (AND AGAIN, NOT ONLY IN THE CENTRAL
HIGHLANDS). IT APPEARS THAT PROVINCIAL LEADERSHIP STYLES --
AND MISSION REPORTING HAS NOTED THE SOMETIMES MARKEDLY
DIFFERENT ATTITUDES AND COMPETENCE OF OFFICIALS OF THESE
FOUR PROVINCES -- MAY MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN THE CONDUCT OF
LOCAL OFFICIALS AND LEVELS OF ETHNIC TENSION. THIS
HIGHLIGHTS THE IMPORTANCE OF CONTINUING TO BUILD
CONSTRUCTIVE RELATIONSHIPS WITH PROVINCIAL AND DISTRICT
AUTHORITIES.

------------------------------------------
THE U.S. ROLE: HAVING AN IMPACT -- OR NOT
------------------------------------------

15. (SBU) IN VIETNAM, IT IS EASY TO FALL INTO THE TRAP OF
DWELLING ON THE PAST. GIVEN THE DEGREE TO WHICH SO MANY OF
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 04 HANOI 03055 03 OF 04 231020Z
THE DISTORTIONS AND SUSPICIONS ON BOTH THE AMERICAN AND
VIETNAMESE SIDES ARE ROOTED IN THE WAR, THIS IS ESPECIALLY
TRUE IN THE CENTRAL HIGHLANDS. THE CLOSE LINKS OF THE
"MONTAGNARDS" WITH US FORCES AND THE CONTINUED STRONG
SUPPORT THEY ENJOY FROM US-BASED INDIVIDUALS AND GROUPS HAVE
BEEN MAJOR FACTORS IN HEIGHTENING THE SUSPICIONS WITH WHICH
THE GVN AND CPV VIEW THESE MINORITY GROUPS IN THEIR OWN
COUNTRY. YET THIS IS A NEW GENERATION OF MONTAGNARDS, NOT
THE GENERATION THAT, IN MANY CASES, FOUGHT SIDE BY SIDE WITH
US FORCES. REPEATED ITERATIONS BY USG OFFICIALS AT SENIOR
LEVELS THAT THE USG DOES NOT SUPPORT THE DEGA MOVEMENT AND
THAT THE USG EXPLICITLY RECOGNIZES THE TERRITORIAL INTEGRITY
OF VIETNAM DO NOT SEEM TO GET THROUGH TO MANY IN THE GVN AND
CPV, UNFORTUNATELY. IT IS A MESSAGE WE NEED TO REPEAT
OFTEN.

16. (SBU) CONTINUED INTERNATIONAL ATTENTION HAS MADE THE
GVN AND CPV (AT LEAST AT THE CENTRAL LEVEL) ACUTELY AWARE OF
THE NEED TO DEAL WITH THEIR IMAGE PROBLEMS IN THE CENTRAL
HIGHLANDS, ALTHOUGH LOCAL OFFICIALS ARE SOMETIMES SEEMINGLY
OBLIVIOUS TO INTERNATIONAL OPINION. THE GVN AND CPV WILL --
NOT SURPRISINGLY -- CONTINUE TO BELIEVE THAT THEY KNOW BEST
(ALTHOUGH THEY INCREASINGLY ADMIT PAST "MISTAKES"), THAT
THEY HAVE THE WELFARE OF THESE POPULATIONS AT HEART, AND
THAT "HOSTILE FOREIGN FORCES" HAVE SINISTER ULTERIOR

UNCLASSIFIED

UNCLASSIFIED PTQ1271

PAGE 01 HANOI 03055 04 OF 04 231020Z
ACTION EAP-00

INFO LOG-00 NP-00 AID-00 AMAD-00 ACQ-00 CIAE-00 DINT-00
DODE-00 DOEE-00 SRPP-00 DS-00 EB-00 ED-01 FBIE-00
UTED-00 VC-00 HHS-01 H-01 TEDE-00 INR-00 IO-00
L-00 VCE-00 AC-01 DCP-01 NSAE-00 NSCE-00 OIC-02
OMB-01 OPIC-01 PA-00 PM-00 PRS-00 ACE-00 P-00
SP-00 SSO-00 STR-00 TEST-00 TRSE-00 USIE-00 PMB-00
DSCC-00 PRM-00 DRL-02 G-00 NFAT-00 SAS-00 /011W
------------------1BB2B0 231020Z /38
O 230936Z DEC 02
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8451
INFO AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY
AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH
AMEMBASSY VIENTIANE
USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI

UNCLAS SECTION 04 OF 04 HANOI 003055

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

STATE FOR EAP/BCLTV AND DRL

MOTIVES. WE MUST NONETHELESS CONTINUE TO HOLD THE GVN
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 02 HANOI 03055 04 OF 04 231020Z
ACCOUNTABLE FOR CREDIBLE INSTANCES OF HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES IN
THE CENTRAL HIGHLANDS -- AS ELSEWHERE IN VIETNAM -- AND TO
PRESS FOR GREATER ACCESS, INCLUDING ROLES FOR HUMANITARIAN
ASSISTANCE BY FOREIGN NGOS. WHEN WE LEARN OF SPECIFIC CASES
OF ABUSE BY LOCAL OFFICIALS, WE MUST URGE THE GVN TO
INVESTIGATE AND DISCIPLINE THOSE FOUND GUILTY AND TAKE STEPS
TO ADDRESS THE LOCAL GRIEVANCES.

17. (SBU) AT THE SAME TIME, HOWEVER, WE MUST BE CAREFUL TO
AVOID A HEAVY-HANDED APPROACH THAT SENDS THE MESSAGE THAT
THE LARGER US-VIETNAM RELATIONSHIP HINGES ONLY ON WHAT
HAPPENS IN THE CENTRAL HIGHLANDS. THE BILATERAL
RELATIONSHIP IS TOO IMPORTANT, IN AND OF ITSELF, TO BE HELD
HOSTAGE TO ANY ONE ISSUE.

18. (SBU) AT THE END OF THE DAY, THE CENTRAL HIGHLANDS WILL
REMAIN LESS WELL DEVELOPED THAN ELSEWHERE IN VIETNAM AND
ETHNIC TENSIONS ARE UNLIKELY TO DISAPPEAR ENTIRELY.
FURTHERMORE, NEW ALLEGATIONS -- OF VARYING DEGREES OF
CREDIBILITY -- OF NEW HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES WILL CONTINUE TO
SURFACE, WHICH WILL CONTINUE TO WARRANT OUR BEST EFFORTS TO
VERIFY OR DISPROVE THEM. WHILE WE HAVE MADE SOME PROGRESS IN
BUILDING TRUST WITH SPECIFIC LOCAL LEADERS, WE SHOULD EXPECT
CONTINUING SUSPICION AND SOMETIMES EVEN OPPOSITION FROM SOME
GVN OFFICIALS, WHO WILL ALWAYS REMAIN CONVINCED THAT WE ARE
STIRRING UP TROUBLE OR ACTING UNDER DUBIOUS MOTIVES.
BURGHARDT

UNCLASSIFIED

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