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Cablegate: Reports of Ethnic Unrest in Central Highlands

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 000391

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/BCLTV, DRL/IRF, CA/OCS, S/ES-O

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM SOCI PREL PGOV KIRF VM HUMANR ETMIN
SUBJECT: REPORTS OF ETHNIC UNREST IN CENTRAL HIGHLANDS

REF: HANOI 962

1. (SBU) The Consulate General has received credible reports of
ethnic unrest in the Central Highlands Province of Dak Lak.
According to several reliable second-hand sources, groups of
ethnic Ede began moving into the provincial capital of Buon Me
Thuot early on the morning of Saturday, April 10. Some sources
reported that these ethnic minority persons were armed with guns
and targeting government facilities. Other sources stated that
they were carrying only rocks and stoning policemen and government
vehicles. A ConGen FSN returning to Ho Chi Minh City from a trip
to Buon Me Thuot Saturday morning confirmed that police and
soldiers had established roadblocks at points along the main road
connecting Dak Lak with HCMC. While he was not prevented from
traveling in the direction of HCMC, he noted that all vehicles
traveling in the other direction were being stopped. ConGen FSN
also observed large numbers of ethnic minority persons gathered
along the roadside. A contact with sources in Buon Me Thuot City
said that police were stopping all ethnic minority persons from
entering the city.

2. (SBU) Late on April 9, the U.S.-based Montagnard Foundation
released a press statement indicating that "nonviolent
demonstrations" were scheduled to begin on April 10 "all across"
the Central Highlands in protest of GVN restrictions on "freedom
to worship Christ." ConGen and Embassy officers had been
scheduled to travel to the region April 10-14 to observe Easter
services and hold official meetings (reftel). The HCMC External
Relations Office (the southern branch office of the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs) contacted ConGenoff on the morning of April 10,
informing him that "the Central Highlands are closed to all
foreigners" and that all scheduled official meetings in the
provinces of Dak Lak, Gia Lai, and Kon Tum -- which had been
confirmed the evening before -- were now canceled for "security
reasons." ConGen FSN contacted telephone centers in the towns of
Pleiku, in Gia Lai province, and Kon Tum, in Kon Tum province,
where operators indicated there were no current disturbances.

3. (SBU) Mission has released a warden message advising Amcits to
defer travel to the province of Dak Lak. Mission officers have
alerted the Operations Center, and continue to monitor the
situation. Poloffs will attempt to travel overland to Dak Lak to
assess the situation first-hand.
O'BRIEN

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