Cablegate: Canadians to Offer Father Ly a Home in Canada

DE RUEHHI #1378 3520429
O R 180428Z DEC 09



E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Canadians to offer Father Ly a home in Canada

1.(SBU) Canadian Ambassador Horton told the Ambassador December 16
that Canada would offer Father Ly a home in Canada, if the GVN were
to release him from prison. Canadian Political Counselor Rob
Burley told Political Chief the following day that two Canadian
ministers - including the Foreign Minister - were extremely
concerned about Father Ly's well-being following his second stroke,
and had instructed the Canadian Embassy to convey the offer.
Burley asked for our assistance in conveying the offer, noting the
Canadian Embassy never had visited Father Ly in prison and did not
have contact with his family members. The Embassy agreed and,
after securing the agreement of Father Ly's family, put the
Canadian embassy in touch with two of Father Ly's nephews. Burley
confirmed later December 17 that his Embassy had spoken with Father
Ly's family, and that one of Father Ly's family members had agreed
to convey Canada's offer to Father Ly during their next prison
visit, which could be as early as the weekend of December 19-20.
Burley added that Ambassador Horton had requested a meeting with
MFA/IO Director General Trung to inform Vietnam of Canada's offer
and, if Father Ly accepts, request that he be released.

2.(SBU) During a working lunch with MFA/Americas Director General
Nguyen Ba Hung December 17, the DCM reiterated the USG's request
that Father Ly be released on humanitarian grounds, and expressed
disappointment that the Ambassador had not been permitted to visit
Father Ly since he suffered his second stroke. Ba Hung said the
GVN likely would extend an amnesty right before Tet, as is
customary, but stressed that Father Ly would not be considered for
inclusion on the list unless he did "something big" to apologize
for his actions.

3.(SBU) Comment: We doubt the GVN will respond positively to
Canada's request. The GVN does not have a track record of
responding positively to such requests. Furthermore, no Vietnamese
leader wants to appear to be bowing to foreign pressure or "soft"
on individuals who they consider pose a threat to Vietnam's
national security, especially as preparations for the January 2011
Party Congress intensify. Sure, Father Ly's continued
imprisonment causes the GVN some headaches in their dealings with
the U.S. and, to a lesser extent, with the EU. But Father Ly's
freedom and relocation to Canada - where he would enjoy an open,
global stage to criticize the GVN and the CPV - could cause the
Vietnamese leadership more headaches. Even if the GVN were to
agree to Canada's request, absent a major downturn in his health
that could not be addressed in Vietnam, we doubt Father Ly would
accept the offer, given his oft-stated love for his homeland and
desire to remain here - imprisoned or not.

© Scoop Media

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