Cablegate: More Protests Over Iraq

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




REF: A. HANOI 396 B. HCMC 157 C. USUN 413

1. (U) On February 19, the national Youth Federation and
the Hanoi Youth Federation jointly sponsored a rally at the
Hanoi Medical University opposing war in Iraq and expressing
solidarity with the people of Iraq. According to press
reports, more than 1,000 students and young people from a
variety of institutions took part (although press photos
indicated a hefty component of middle aged or older
participants at least in the front rows). The rally, like
similar ones in Hue and Ho Chi Minh City also on February
19, received prominent media coverage. The Vietnam Lawyers
Association separately expressed support for a political
solution to the Iraq issue in conformity with the UN Charter
and international law.

2. (U) The youth meeting in Hanoi passed a resolution
proclaiming that "Vietnamese youth oppose war against Iraq"
and calling on people around the world to make every effort
to "protect peace." Participants also insisted the "US and
U.K. stop military action against Iraq" and "respect the
independence and sovereignty" of Iraq. One speaker
denounced the "military pressure" of "US authorities" on
Iraq and threats to "world peace and stability."

3. (U) Vietnamese media also gave prominent coverage to
pro-inspections, anti-war comments by the Vietnamese deputy
permanent representative to the United Nations at the
Security Council on February 18 (ref c).

4. (U) Comment: The language used at this "mass" rally was
almost identical to expressions from similarly organized
demonstrations on February 18 (refs a and b), further
indicating the centrally-directed nature of the "protests"
and the likelihood that other mass organizations will follow
suit in the coming days. Embassy's requests to meet with
student unions in Hanoi have been politely rebuffed by the
central Youth Federation since October 2002. It is another
telling indicator of the Leninist top-down nature of this
system that the leaders of the national Youth Federation are
in the 30s and 40s, and the leaders of most university
student unions appear to be 20ish lecturers rather than
actual students.

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