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Cablegate: Korean Rally Update - 08-02-2006

VZCZCXRO8345
OO RUEHIK RUEHYG
DE RUEHBUL #3455/01 2141439
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 021439Z AUG 06
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1705
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL PRIORITY 0043
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC//JF/UNMA//
RHMFIUU/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC//J3//
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RUMICEA/JICCENT MACDILL AFB FL
RHMFIUU/COMSOCCENT MACDILL AFB FL
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 2713
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 2857
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 6188
RUEHUNV/USMISSION UNVIE VIENNA 1541

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KABUL 003455

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR SCA/FO DAS GASTRIGHT, SCA/A, S/CRS, SA/PB, S/CT,
EUR/RPM
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR AID/ANE, AID/DCHA/DG
NSC FOR AHARRIMAN
OSD FOR BREZINSKI
CENTCOM FOR CFC-A, CG CJTF-76, POLAD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CASC PGOV PHUM PREL PTER AF KS
SUBJECT: KOREAN RALLY UPDATE - 08-02-2006

REF: A) KABUL 003320 B) STATE 125681

KABUL 00003455 001.2 OF 002


1. (SBU) Post continues to track a group of
approximately 1150 Koreans in country to participate
in a peace rally and relief work. News reports
characterize the groups as "Christian Evangelicals"
and there has already been one Afghan demonstration in
Mazar-e-Sharif to protest this event and the situation
in Lebanon. Post believes that there is a significant
threat towards this group and is working to inform
American participants of the dangers. We have also
convened the EAC, details Septel.

2. (SBU) About 1150 Koreans are reported to have
already entered Afghanistan. It is reported that there
are approximately 300 in Herat, 400 in Bamyan, 170 in
Kandahar, 50-80 in Mazar, and an indeterminate number
(probably several hundred) in Kabul. There also
appears to be a large number of children (5-15 y/o)
included in these numbers. In Mazar over half of the
participants are children. Millennium Pacific Icon
Group is involved in coordinating Korean-American
involvement. They report that 200-400 Korean-Americans
will participate. It is also reported that Koreans of
other nationalities may participate.

3. (SBU) President Karzai is tracking the issue and
has issued orders through the MFA and MOI. The MFA was
ordered to stop issuing visas to Koreans in order to
help prevent travel to the country. The MOI was also
ordered to prevent additional members associated with
the Korean groups from entering the country, but may
have difficulty in doing so because of logistical and
organizational limitations. The MOI has also been
coordinating with Governors to gather information and
limit the groups' activities for their own safety.
Minister of Interior Zarar said that his ministry has
begun planning its security response (See Septel).
ISAF is working on its own contingency plans and is
being urged to provide assistance to the ANP to
prepare for possible scenarios.

3. (SBU) PRTOff in Mazar-e Sharif reported that there
was a demonstration, today, August 2, of approximately
200 Afghans in response to the Korean group and the
situation in Lebanon. (COMMENT: One Afghan told a
mullah that he had been given a Bible by members of
the group to read instead of the Koran. These claims
are impossible to verify but speak to public
perceptions of the group. END COMMENT.) PRTOff also
went to visit the Institute for Asian Culture and
Development office along with a representative from
UNAMA. They saw approximately 20-30 children at the
location, many of whom appeared to be sick but were
being treated by doctors associated with the
organization. There were two American citizens in the
group, one adult female, and one child. PRTOff passed
on the department's consular information to the adult
and cautioned her about the dangers of being in
Afghanistan. (PRT COMMENT: PRTOff repeatedly asked
about where the parents of the children were, but did
not receive a response. She suspects that they may be
orphans traveling with guardians. END PRT COMMENT.)
IACD representatives said that the rest of the group,
approximately 150 people, had left for Bamyan by bus
over the last two days.

KABUL 00003455 002.2 OF 002

4. (SBU) News reports increasingly characterize the
group as being made up of evangelical Christians and
suggest that they are being seen by the public as an
affront to Islam. An article from the Korean Times
quotes the group as saying they plan to engage in
"volunteer services, missionary work, and cultural
performances." All of the current media reports bill
this event as having strong religious connections. As
a result, Afghans and Afghan authorities are extremely
concerned.

5. (SBU) Only a handful of Korean-Americans have
registered with the Embassy for the period of August
2-8. Post met with the event planners on July 31, and
informed them that the Department of State has a
Travel Warning for Afghanistan that urges American
citizens not to travel to here and that the Department
has also warned Americans against participating in
large gatherings. Consul also made it clear that the
Embassy would provide ACS, but may not be able to get
anyone out of jail. Additionally, she noted that while
Embassy understands their event is secular in nature,
the GOA has not responded well to proselytism and that
others have been arrested in the past on these
grounds. Lastly, Consul provided organizers with
copies of the Travel Warning, Worldwide Caution, and
Consular Information Sheet. PolOff closed the meeting
by strongly urging the group to inform all of their
participants regarding the security situation and also
to consider canceling all events. PolOff stressed that
while the group leaders may have the best intentions
it would be irresponsible not to put the safety and
security of their members first.

6. (SBU) Post will continue to engage all affected
parties to promote a peaceful resolution to this
situation. The Embassy's primary concern is for the
safety of all who are involved and we are urging the
GOA and ISAF to take the necessary precautions to
avoid violence this weekend. Post will send out a
warden message tomorrow to all American citizens, and
will distribute hard copies to participants who may
not have registered.
NEUMANN

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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