Cablegate: Gvn Misses Deadline for Religion Decrees

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

152358Z Nov 04





E.O. 12958: N/A

Reftels: A) Hanoi 2009 B) Hanoi 1987 C) HCMC 1388 and


This is a joint Hanoi-Ho Chi Minh City reporting cable.

1. (SBU) Vietnam's new Ordinance on Religion came into
effect on November 15, but the GVN has yet to issue the
necessary decrees detailing how the ordinance is to be
implemented (Ref A). Sources within the Committee for
Religious Affairs (CRA) indicated to us that the
implementing decrees are pending approval at the next
government-wide intra-ministerial meeting, likely to take
place at the end of November.

2. (SBU) In the interim, the national-level CRA has not and
does not plan to issue any guidance to its provincial
counterparts as to how to handle the new ordinance, its
officials informed us. The Chairman of the Dong Nai
provincial CRA told ConGenOff that, in the absence of
instructions from Hanoi, he planned to act "in the sprit of
the law," which he indicated included the possible closure
of unregistered churches. A contact at the HCMC CRA was
more equivocal, saying they needed clarification from Hanoi
on some issues, especially regarding the house church
movement. A check around with some of our religious
contacts suggested there were no immediate changes as of
November 15.

3. (SBU) Comment: In the absence of either an
implementation decree or other guidance from Hanoi, local
authorities have some latitude to interpret the ordinance
for the next two weeks. Furthermore, some of the more
directly confrontational religious leaders may begin to test
the ordinance and/or seek to provoke an official reaction.
As such, there is some risk of confrontation in the near
future. We will continue to follow up with our official and
unofficial religious contacts and will use every opportunity
to impress upon the GVN our concerns.


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