Cablegate: Ha Giang Remains Sore Spot for Protestants

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
SUBJECT: Ha Giang remains sore spot for Protestants

REF: Hanoi 383

1. (U) A leader of the Evangelical Church of Vietnam-North
has provided additional details about three Protestant
figures in Ha Giang province in the Northwest Highlands who
had been arrested (reftel) as well as information about an
additional arrest, as follow:
-- Ly Sin Quang, 28 years old, from Giap Trung village,
Thang Tin Commune, Hoang Su Phi District, was arrested
December 6, 2003. He was sentenced to 26 months in prison.
He became a Protestant in 1991. His wife and four children
are reportedly facing economic hardship now;
-- Vang Chin Sang, 56 years old, also from Giap Trung
village, Thang Tin Commune, Hoang Su Phi District, was
arrested November 26, 2003. He was sentenced to 36 months
imprisonment. He became a Christian in 1999. He has a wife
and one child;
-- Vang My Ly (noted in reftel as Vang Mi Ly), 24 years
old, also from Giap Trung village, Thang Tin Commune, Hoang
Su Phi District. He was arrested December 6, 2003 and has
been sentenced to 26 months imprisonment. He became a
Protestant in 1991. His wife and three children are also
described as facing economic hardship;
-- Ly Chin Seng, 60 years old, is the father of Ly Sin
Quang. He is from Giap Trung town, Thang Tin Commune, Hoang
Su Phi District. He was arrested December 17, 2003 and
sentenced to 36 months imprisonment. He became a Protestant
in 1991.

2. (U) The Protestant source did not have the exact
charges on which these individuals were convicted, but
claimed that the arrests and sentences were directly related
to their religious activities.

3. (U) The same source noted, however, that problems for
Protestants in other Northwest provinces, notably the newly
separate province of Dien Bien Phu and Lai Chau (of which
Dien Bien Phu was previously a part), had abated
significantly over the past several months. In his opinion,
the only province in the Northwest Highlands where ethnic
minority Protestants continue to face harassment and/or
arrest was Ha Giang. He was unable to offer any hypothesis
on why this was the case.

4. (U) Comment: Embassy provided an updated list of
persons believed to be imprisoned, harassed, or raped in
cases related to their religious beliefs - including all
four of the individuals named above - to the Government
Committee on Religious Affairs and the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs on April 14, and asked them to investigate and
report back to Embassy. A similar list was sent to the MFA
on March 19 under cover of diplomatic note, also asking for
information. We are not optimistic that either institution
will respond any time soon -- we are still waiting for a
response from the Ministry of Public Security to the list
Ambassador Hanford provided in October, despite our repeated
follow-up inquiries -- but we will continue to ask,
particularly as we prepare the next draft International
Religious Freedom Report for Vietnam.

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