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Cablegate: Ero Calls an Giang Incident Unacceptable, Promises More

VZCZCXRO1415
PP RUEHDT RUEHPB
DE RUEHHM #1064 2900615
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 170615Z OCT 07
FM AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3238
INFO RUEHHI/AMEMBASSY HANOI PRIORITY 2245
RUCNARF/ASEAN REGIONAL FORUM COLLECTIVE
RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY 3451

UNCLAS HO CHI MINH CITY 001064

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

PASS TO EAP/MLS AND PRM/ANE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CVIS CMGT ASEC PREL VN
SUBJECT: ERO CALLS AN GIANG INCIDENT UNACCEPTABLE, PROMISES MORE
COORDINATION WITH PROVINCES, MORE DIALOGUE WITH USG


1. (SBU) Summary: Responding to the Consul General's previous
protest (septel) over harassment and interference of Consulate
staff during a routine FPU investigation in An Giang province,
ERO Deputy Director Le Hung Quoc said evicting Consulate
personnel from the hotel in An Giang was not acceptable, and
admitted there are "other forces" in Vietnam's government that
need to "change with the times." ConGenoffs also provided more
details of incidents in which provincial and local authorities
had impeded our work by inserting themselves in private meetings
and questioning and intimidating our contacts. Quoc promised to
raise the incidents with provincial authorities and said in the
future, "private meetings will be private." End Summary.

2. (SBU) DPO Dickey, accompanied by Poloff Bennett and HRS chief
Swanson, called on HCMC ERO Deputy Director Le Hung Quoc to
continue the discussion begun on October 5 regarding
inappropriate interference by provincial authorities in a
consular fraud investigation trip. Quoc, echoing the apology
delivered by MFA Hanoi to Embassy on October 11, said that local
authorities' actions threatening Consulate staff and evicting
them from their hotel in An Giang were "not acceptable." Quoc
added that the GVN's new policy of "openness to the world" has
not been in place for long, and that it will take time for
various levels of government to adapt to changes. Quoc said
there are "other forces" in the Vietnamese government that need
to "change with the times." He said that although the provinces
in question had offered explanations for why they had taken
certain actions against our consulate team, Quoc judged that
"there were no good excuses" for such unacceptable behavior.

3. (SBU) Responding to Quoc's previous offer (septel) to
investigate interference in other consulate work trips, Poloff
and HRS chief informed Quoc of three incidents during recent
visits to the Central Highlands, during which both uniform and
plainclothes police brought our contacts in for questioning,
stationed themselves outside their homes, and attempted to
insert themselves into meetings. This interference and
harassment had occurred even though we had expressly requested,
via diplomatic note, that we be allowed to meet our contacts in
private. As a result, our contacts were intimidated and
unwilling to share information. DPO Dickey said the
interference in our meetings negatively impacts the credibility
of our reporting to Washington because it hinders our ability to
comment objectively on allegations of human rights and religious
freedom violations. As these allegations often originate among
activists in the United States, it is in the interest of both
our countries to investigate them. Hindering the consulate's
ability to investigate can only further damage Vietnam's
international image.

4. (SBU) Quoc agreed to raise incidents with provincial
authorities and said in the future "private meetings will be
private meetings." Quoc said though he appreciated the fact the
Consulate was helping GVN counter inaccurate reports of GVN
actions in the U.S., it was often difficult for the ERO to
explain to "other parts of the government" why the United States
was only interested in meeting those who "do not support the
government's policies."

5. This cable was coordinated with Embassy Hanoi.

FAIRFAX

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