Cablegate: Cpv On Human Rights, Central Highlands, Korea

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

REF: A. Hanoi 2193 B. Seoul 3775 C. Seoul 1962

1. (SBU) Summary: In a meeting with visiting SFRC staffer
Frank Jannuzi, CPV officials said human rights and democracy
were secondary priorities for Vietnam behind meeting the
population's basic material needs; that freedom to operate
in the Central Highlands would be especially slow in coming
for UNHCR due to UNHCR's previous "betrayal" of Vietnam; and
that the GVN had temporarily suspended the assisted
migration of lowland Vietnamese into the Central Highlands
in order to give the ethnic minority population a chance to
participate in economic development without having to
compete with new arrivals. DPRK refugees were not permitted
to enter Vietnam but some had been able to do so because
they were mistaken for Chinese or Vietnamese travelers by
border authorities, the officials said. End Summary.

2. (SBU) Senate Foreign Relations Committee staffer Frank
Jannuzi met Bui The Giang, Director of the People-to-People
Relations Department of the Commission for External
Relations of the CPV's Central Committee, on August 31,
2004. Deputy Director Le Quang Ba of the External Relations
Commission's Northeast Asia Department was also at the


3. (SBU) Jannuzi asked Giang what he could "take back to
Washington" on the subject of human rights. Giang said he
understood the human rights issue well, including the U.S.
domestic political aspect, but he thought the United States
did not fully understand Vietnam. "Individual expression of
religion - even by my wife, a devout Buddhist - is perfectly
acceptable in Vietnam. And I am a Communist Party
official." Giang explained further that in Vietnam there
was no distinction between registered and unregistered
religions, the way there was in some countries. Restriction
did not occur in Vietnam until political organizations
entered the picture masquerading as religious organizations,
he said. "The stability and unity of Vietnam are crucial
and cannot be threatened," Giang stated. "Too much time and
blood have been shed for us - who protect this country - to
tolerate a threat." Giang characterized Vietnam as a "poor
nation that has to prioritize its needs" and said that the
first priority was to feed the population. "When everyone
can eat, we can consider wider democratic freedoms," Giang
said. Abuses were an unfortunate reality in the current
system, Giang acknowledged, due to "bad behavior by
individual officials."

4. (SBU) Jannuzi stressed the need for faster change in
Vietnam. Of course concern about necessities of life was
important, he conceded, but the next step for Vietnam had to
be to realize the capacity of the individual. Vietnam would
never reach its full capacity without enhancing individual
energy and freedom, Jannuzi said.

--------------------------------------------- --------------

5. (SBU) Giang admitted that the GVN and CPV had internal
debates on how much change to allow and at what pace. "We
are impatient," he said, "moving from a war-ravaged society
into the future. Our current progress is far from what we
expect to accomplish." The difficulty, he said, was finding
a policy that met Vietnam's internal needs for stability and
growth within a set structure while remaining acceptable to
the international community. The pace, order, and magnitude
of change - political, social, and economic - were the
subjects of "constant internal debate."

6. (SBU) Jannuzi said the USG would like to increase
cooperation with Vietnam on a variety of issues, notably
information exchange, law enforcement, and the rule of law.
Giang said he knew the USG was "frustrated at the slow
progress in these fields" but urged Jannuzi to consider
that, "in comparison with Vietnam's progress with other
countries, the United States is not doing too badly."

7. (SBU) Jannuzi suggested Vietnam look at China for
possible lessons on how to deal with the USG, especially
Congress. He noted that the sophistication and depth of
U.S.-China cooperation on significant issues such as North
Korea and terrorism made a difference in Congress' attitudes
towards China and affected the "context" in which Congress
viewed sensitive issues such as Taiwan and human rights. An
example in Vietnam would be access to the Central Highlands,
he said. Jannuzi thanked Giang for the GVN's willingness to
allow him to visit the Central Highlands, but noted that it
would be even better if UNHCR and external media outlets
could have free access to the region. In addition,
regularized contacts between the Embassy and the Ministry of
Public Security (MPS) and more authoritative access to
information on all subjects would greatly smooth and enhance
our bilateral relationship.


8. (SBU) Giang lamented that access to the Central Highlands
was often a "local problem" and that the offices of the
Central Committee of the CPV were sometimes refused
permission to go to the Central Highlands because the local
administration feared that a visit from Hanoi could "stir
things up." Receiving permission for the United States, or
Sweden, or UNHCR was even more difficult. UNHCR, he said
bitterly, was "untrustworthy." "Two years ago we signed a
tripartite agreement with UNHCR and Cambodia," Giang
explained, "and the next day, UNHCR smacked us in the face.
They betrayed us."

9. (SBU) In a separate meeting, UNHCR Vietnam head Vu Anh
Son acknowledged to Poloff that, in early 2002, shortly
after signing a tripartite agreement with Cambodia and
Vietnam regarding the modalities for the return of over
1,000 ethnic Gia Rai migrants who had fled from Dak Lak
province in Vietnam into Ratanakiri and Mondolkiri provinces
in Cambodia following the 2001 unrest in the Central
Highlands, UNHCR "withdrew unilaterally" from the agreement.
UNHCR withdrew from the agreement because the GVN had sent
buses filled with "rough guys" posing as family members
visiting the two UNHCR sites in Cambodia. Those "rough
guys" had destroyed the sites and UNHCR property and
intimidated the migrants, Son said. Subsequently, UNHCR
returned 15 of the migrants, 200 returned on their own, and
900 were resettled in the United States under a U.S.-
Cambodia bilateral agreement, he added.

--------------------------------------------- ----

10. (SBU) Giang said that as a result of "the development of
negative feelings and hostility towards incoming lowlanders"
migration into the Central Highlands had been "temporarily
halted." An additional motivation was the desire to give
the ethnic minority residents the opportunity to enhance
their participation in the economic development of the
Central Highlands without "heavy competition" from new
arrivals. [Note: Giang was referring to the GVN's decision,
announced by Deputy PM Nguyen Tan Dung on August 20, to halt
assisted migration into the Central Highlands under the "new
economic zones" program. End note.]


11. (SBU) Shifting gears, Jannuzi thanked Giang and Ba for
allowing the movement of over 400 DPRK refugees from Ho Chi
Minh City to Seoul (reftels), and for Vietnam's "humane"
policy of turning a blind eye to illegal DPRK migrants
transiting Vietnam. After a lengthy and uncomfortable
pause, Ba stated that the GVN did not "permit" DPRK migrants
to enter Vietnam but noted that Chinese, Korean, and
Vietnamese people looked similar and it was very difficult
for border guards and other officials to tell them apart.

12. (SBU) Comment: Giang is always a genial interlocutor,
and his easy style and American (Johns Hopkins SAIS)
education contribute to cordial exchanges. He does not
waver from the CPV line, however, as demonstrated in his
comments about human rights and UNHCR. The suspension of
the program to provide financial assistance to those moving
to the Central Highlands is potentially a positive step,
though Jannuzi's later meeting in the Highlands called into
question whether it will be implemented (septel). The GVN
still has no specific plans to deal with so-called "free
immigrants" who continue to migrate into the Highlands
without GVN assistance. Ongoing movement by that
population, many of whom are ethnic minorities from the
Northwest, will limit the suspension's effectiveness. End

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