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Cablegate: Tensions Continue Between Hoa Hao and Mekong Delta

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 000846

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/BCLTV, DRL/IRF

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM SOCI PREL KIRF PGOV VM
SUBJECT: TENSIONS CONTINUE BETWEEN HOA HAO AND MEKONG DELTA
AUTHORITIES

REF: A) HANOI 2073 B) HCMC 825 C) HCMC 600 D) HCMC 433

1. (SBU) Summary: Tensions between Hoa Hao activists and
authorities in An Giang and Dong Thap provinces remain high a week
after two activists self-immolated in response to police raids on
their homes. Police remain camped outside the homes of select Hoa
Hao leaders, and as many as 25 more followers have threatened self-
immolation. We continue to urge all parties to exercise
restraint. End Summary.

2. (SBU) A week following the self-immolation of two Hoa Hao
activists and the arrest of eight others, tension continues to
mount between Hoa Hao and authorities in An Giang and nearby
provinces. According to Hoa Hao dissident leader Le Quang Liem,
more than 25 of his followers in An Giang, Vinh Long and Dong Thap
have publicly proclaimed they will self-immolate if authorities do
not release those detained in the raids of August 5. Truong Van
Duc, another dissident leader, told us he remains holed up in his
home in An Giang, with "50 or 60" police and other officials "on
guard" outside. Duc continued to threaten self-immolation if
authorities attempted to enter his house. Neither Liem nor Duc
had any information about the welfare or whereabouts of the
activist who attempted self-immolation August 5.

3. (SBU) Acting PolOff spoke to Liem August 12 and once again
urged restraint, continuing to emphasize that the USG does not
regard self-immolation as a constructive form of protest. Liem
said he had been urging restraint to his followers and claimed
there would have been more acts of self-immolation had he not
spoken out against it. He asked for U.S. intervention and claimed
that the problems between Hoa Hao and authorities were "purely
religious" (i.e., not political). Acting CG telephoned Le Hung
Quoc, First Vice Director, HCMC External Relations Office (ERO),
emphasizing the need for restraint on the part of local
authorities in dealing with Hoa Hao adherents, and noting that we
had also told Hoa Hao members that the USG does not condone
violent acts like self-immolation. Quoc invited Acting CG to meet
him August 15 and said he would provide information about the
situation.

4. (SBU) Comment: In the August 15 meeting, ERO will likely
present details and arguments similar to the information sheet and
comments provided by MFA to Pol/C in Hanoi on August 12 (Ref A).
The apparent unwillingness or inability of either side to back
down increases the danger of further violence, including self-
immolations. Given the political coloration of his previous
activities and his disdain for the Communists (reftels), Liem's
claim that this is a "purely religious" matter seems
oversimplified. End Comment.

CHERN

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