Cablegate: Thich Huyen Quang Tarries in Hanoi

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





E.O. 12958: NA
SUBJECT: Thich Huyen Quang Tarries in Hanoi

Ref: HANOI 0631

Please stay

1. (SBU) Thich Huyen Quang, Patriarch of the pre-1975
United Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV), explained to
emboffs on April 1 that he had not yet returned to Quang
Ngai province because senior GVN officials still wished to
meet with him. He noted that he had been "invited" to stay
for such meetings by a Ministry of Public Security official,
and that he was quite willing to do so. Thich Huyen Quang
said that he did not know exactly who wanted to meet him but
speculated that it was Prime Minister Phan Van Khai or
Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung. He believes the
meeting might take place in the next few days.

2. (U) The Patriarch emphasized that GVN had not/not
required him to stay in Hanoi, as claimed by some
international followers. He indicated that he still planned
to return to Quang Ngai "in a few days" after the
meeting(s). He noted that he had already written to Quang
Ngai provincial authorities to inform them that he would
return to "resume the conditions of my house arrest."

3. (U) Thich Huyen Quang expressed appreciation for
Ambassador's interest in calling on him; a tentative meeting
has been set for April 4.

Train troubles

4. (SBU) Thich Huyen Quang's followers provided two
different accounts of attempts to purchase train tickets to
return to the south, apparently before the MPS "invitation"
to stay. One stated that the party numbered ten people; it
had proven impossible to buy a block of ten tickets so that
they could travel together unless they delayed their travel
several days. A young monk separately claimed that he had
been the one who had gone to the train station and been
refused tickets without explanation. He speculated that
tickets were likely available, but that the GVN had ordered
the railway not to sell them to him. (Note: This would
suggest active MPS monitoring of the comings and goings of
Thich Huyen Quang and supporters, which is not improbable.
End note)

Expressing his views

5. (SBU) Thich Huyen Quang said that he had sent a six-
point letter drafted by Thich Tue Sy to the GVN on or about
March 26. Thich Huyen Quang declined to describe the
content of this letter, apart from indicating that it was
critical on the Government Committee on Religious Affairs'
handling of religion. Later that day, a GVN official
contacted the head nun of Kim Lien Pagoda, where Thich Huyen
Quang's party has been staying. The official reportedly
informed her that Thich Tue Sy should not be allowed to
remain there any longer. The monk apparently departed Hanoi
that night. The Patriarch initially indicated that Thich
Tue Sy had left because the GVN had found three of the
letter's six points objectionable, but another follower
separately noted that Thich Tue Sy had left primarily
because he does not have a identification card or a
residence registration and is therefore unable to stay
anywhere other than his legal place of residence more than
ten days. The Patriarch said that he had subsequently sent
a second letter to the GVN withdrawing the three most
controversial points of the first letter.

Paying the bills

6. (U) Thich Huyen Quang said that his followers had
initially paid his hospital bills. Subsequently, the GVN
had insisted on picking up the tab, and the hospital then
reimbursed the followers for these expenses, which ran only
about 1.5 million dong (USD 100).


7. (SBU) Reports that Thich Huyen Quang is being kept in
Hanoi against his will appear to be wholly incorrect. His
followers here, as well as at the International Buddhist
Information Bureau in Paris, seem to have their factional
differences and appear to generate these contradictory and
sometimes factually false accounts, likely for their own
anti-SRV or personal agendas. A meeting between the UBCV
Patriarch and Prime Minister Khai or Deputy Prime Minister
Dung would be unprecedented, as apparently was the call on
him by Vietnam Fatherland Front Head Pham The Duyet. Thich
Huyen Quang does not/not appear to be under any imminent
threat from the GVN and there has been no obvious effort by
the GVN to limit access to the Patriarch while he has been
in Hanoi. It is not clear what may have led to this
possible change of heart by the CPV and GVN, but repeated
expressions of concern by the USG and international
observers, as well as decades of bad publicity generated by
the IBIB and others, may have begun to wear away at the
stone and convinced them that a little respect to an elderly
bonze would not actually be fatal to the SRV or endanger
"national solidarity."

© Scoop Media

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