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Cablegate: Invitations to "Discuss" Religion in Dak Lak Province

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





E. O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) On May 29, ConGen Poloff and Pol/Econ assistant met
with a reliable contact regarding the situation of unregistered
religious minority groups in Dak Lak province. The contact
gave ConGenoff a collection of written materials -- some
official-looking original documents and several photocopied
"invitations" from district and commune police offices in Dak
Lak. There were also photocopies of "invitations" from a local
Fatherland Front Committee. The invitations ask the
individuals to meet with officials to discuss GVN policy on
religious affairs. According to our contact, however, during
these meetings each individual was asked to sign a document
saying s/he would disband the unrecognized church council to
which they belonged. The documents originate in either Krong
No District or Truong Xuan Commune (Dak Song District). Poloff
was unable to verify the authenticity of these documents but
has no reason to doubt the source's sincerity.

2. (SBU) Post's contact indicated that the invitations were
given to individuals he personally knew in Dak Lak province.
He received the documents from the pastors to whose
congregations these individuals belong -- with the agreement to
protect the information and bring it to the USG and other
groups concerned about the treatment of unrecognized religious
minorities in the Central Highlands.

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3. (SBU) The invitations are dated between January 18 and May
2 and were addressed to the following people:

Y Chroih Bap Rok
Y Chroih Ma Roc (a.k.a. Y Chroih Ma Roh)
Y Tai "Ma Jay" (a.k.a. Y Tai Ma Jani)
Y Son
H'Pleh (Ami Vol)
Y'Hoan B'Krong
Y Duc K Man

4. (SBU) The invitations originating with the police in Krong
No District requested the individuals to meet with officers at
the police station to "work". This verb is commonly taken to
mean that the invited person will have to discuss certain
subjects with the police.

5. (SBU) The invitations originating with the Chairman or
Vice-Chairman of the Fatherland Front Committee of Truong Xuan
Commune, Dak Song District, state the purpose of the meeting is
"to review Decision No. 26/ND-CP regarding religious affairs,
as per step 2 of the plan to disband the Protestant Church
Council", or "to discuss the religious situation".

6. (SBU) According to Post's contact, the pastors of these
individuals reported that each time the individual arrived at
the required time and place, s/he would be lectured by the
official on the law relating to the recognition of churches in
Vietnam. Then the individual would be asked to sign a paper
agreeing to disband the lay church council of the unrecognized
Protestant church to which s/he belonged. If the individual
did not agree to sign, s/he had to stay in the office until
close of business. Post's contact said that sometimes this
daily summons and "office detention" would continue for up to
two weeks.

7. (SBU) Comment: This is the first time Post has seen what
appears to be an official paper request to disband a house
church council. As far as we know, the GVN's official
recognition of the Southern Evangelical Church of Vietnam
(SECV) did not stipulate a limit on the number of churches that
could be recognized within each district within a province. In
previous discussions with the Ethnic Minority and Religious
Affairs Committees of Dak Lak and Gia Lai Provinces, committee
members never mentioned a limit on the number of churches, but
did say each "sub-association" seeking recognition as a church
should have a minimum of about 100 members. However, Post's
contact has indicated that when his pastor friends discussed
applying for official GVN recognition through the SECV, they
were told by district officials there could only be one
recognized Protestant church -- of any denomination -- per
district. Post's contact said that believers of all sects have
been told they must consolidate with the the single recognized
Protestant church in their district in order to be considered
legal. (All house churches and their church councils remain
technically illegal.) ConGenoffs will pursue this issue with
provincial officials and reliable contacts. End comment.

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