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Cablegate: Fatherland Front Holds Peaceful Demonstration Against

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

UNCLAS HO CHI MINH CITY 000153

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/BCLTV, IO/UNP, R, PA/OA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PINS PINR PHUM PREL OPRC MOPS VM IZ
SUBJECT: FATHERLAND FRONT HOLDS PEACEFUL DEMONSTRATION AGAINST
IRAQ WAR

1. Summary. On February 19 the Fatherland Front of Vietnam (FFV)-
-the umbrella organization for Communist Party mass organizations
in Vietnam--coordinated a peaceful and orderly demonstration
inside the Friendship Association House across the street from
ConGen to show opposition to a war with Iraq. The meeting lasted
exactly two hours, was attended by mostly middle-aged party
members, and was orderly and quiet. The event, which was reported
in the press, was a carefully controlled expression designed to
show public support for the current position of the Communist
Party of Vietnam. End summary.

2. Approximately 500 Vietnamese were assembled in GVN official
vehicles and brought to the Friendship Association House on Le
Duan street, across from ConGen, at 7:00 am. Both uniformed and
plain clothes police were present. The rally began with a series
of brief speeches and concluded with the last speaker leading the
audience in repeating the phrases: "Oppose the war in Iraq,"
"Support a stable peace in the Middle East," and "Solidarity and
friendship between the Vietnamese and Iraqi people." The room
contained several banners with the same messages, as well as "The
U.S.-British coalition should not cause war against the Iraqi
people."

3. The rally was organized under the FFV by the Youth
Association, but participants came from across the spectrum of
mass organizations in Ho Chi Minh City, including labor and
religious organizations. The Youth Association reportedly held
its own rally in HCMC the evening of February 18, where they
collected over 1000 signatures on a banner they plan to send to
the U.S. Ambassador in Hanoi. The February 19 event was filmed by
the national television station and reported in the press. There
were also press reports about the February 18 Youth Association
rally.

4. Poloff and RSO spoke with some of the protesters after the
meeting had adjourned promptly at 9:00 am. All said that they had
been invited by the FFV on February 18. The presidents of two of
the mosques in Ho Chi Minh City added that they had no ill
feelings towards American citizens, the USG, or the ConGen, but
that they had sympathy with the Iraqi people as victims of a war
led by the USG, and that they believed the USG and the U.K. should
use their power to create peace, not war. The Buddhist monk
speaking at the rally also said that the USG should not act on its
own but work with the Security Council to ensure that Iraq
satisfies the conditions in UNSC Resolution 1441. (Note: None of
them raised economic concerns, although under the oil for food
program Iraq was the biggest importer of Vietnamese rice in 2002,
buying 871,800 metric tons, or about 27 percent of Vietnam's total
rice exports. End Note.)

5. Comment. The Fatherland Front periodically orchestrates
meetings of this kind to publicly reflect the views of the
Communist Party. It is therefore interesting to note that the
whole event was done on a small scale and in a quiet and orderly
fashion. There was also a relatively large representation from Ho
Chi Minh City's normally apolitical Muslim community: there are
only 5,000 Muslims in Ho Chi Minh City's population of roughly 7
million, the 25 Muslims in attendance represented 5 percent of the
crowd at the rally. End Comment.
YAMAUCHI

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