Cablegate: Foreign Ministry Comments On Whereabouts of Ubcv

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 October 10, Charge and Acting POLOFF met with
Assistant Foreign Minister Nguyen Duc Hung to express our
concern about the apparent police actions this week to
interfere in the travel of Unified Buddhist Church of
Vietnam Patriarch Thich Huyen Quang, his deputy Thich Quang
Do, and several other monks of the same order (ref). He
also raised unconfirmed reports that police officials
returned the monks to their home pagodas in different
provinces, instead of letting them all travel together to
HCMC as planned, and then detained them for questioning. He
said the apparent heavy-handed police treatment of the monks
was in sharp contrast to the reception that Thich Huyen
Quang received during his call on Prime Minister Phan Van
Khai earlier in the year, and was an unwelcome prelude to
the visit next week of Ambassador at Large for Religious
Freedoms John Hanford. Charge urged the GVN to follow its
international commitments, as well as its own laws, and
fully respect the human rights of its citizens, including
freedom of religion, assembly, and movement.

2. (SBU) Hung responded that he "agreed with" the Charge's
assessment of the unfortunate timing of the police actions,
but assured the Charge that the reports of the monks'
problems, particularly reports emanating from exiled
Buddhist groups in Paris "with an agenda," were
"inaccurate." Hung stated that it was not Vietnamese
officials or police who were interfering with the monks'
travel in Binh Dinh, but rather "local supporters who did
not wish to see the monks leave." Hung added that the
government could "not control the actions of all people in
Vietnam," but was now "ensuring the safety of all involved
in the incident." He stated that "both Thich Huyen Quang
and Thich Quang Do were now safely back in their respective
pagodas in Binh Dinh and HCMC. He further added that "no
detentions or suppression of freedoms of either monk have
occurred, but caveated this statement by clarifying that his
understanding was based on "preliminary information."

3. (U) ConGen HCMC is reporting additional information

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