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Cablegate: Angry Mob Disrupts Eu Visit with Lang Mai Followers; Cra

VZCZCXRO2280
PP RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHNH
DE RUEHHM #0672/01 3440900
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 100900Z DEC 09
FM AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6153
INFO RUEHHI/AMEMBASSY HANOI PRIORITY 4048
RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE
RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY PRIORITY 6396

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HO CHI MINH CITY 000672

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MLS, DRL/AWH AND DRL/IRF

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KIRF PHUM PGOV PREL VM
SUBJECT: ANGRY MOB DISRUPTS EU VISIT WITH LANG MAI FOLLOWERS; CRA
DENIES SPONSORSHIP REQUESTS

REF: HCMC 669 AND PREVIOUS

HO CHI MIN 00000672 001.2 OF 002


Subject: Angry Mob Disrupts EU Visit with Lang Mai Followers;
CRA Denies Sponsorship Requests

1. (SBU) Summary: The situation for the Lang Mai followers
currently housed at the Phuoc Hue pagoda deteriorated further on
December 9 after angry locals gathered and threatened the group,
calling on Phuoc Hue's leaders to evict them -- the same tactics
that were used to force them to leave Bat Nha pagoda in
September (reftels). Local authorities were present but have
done nothing to dissuade the mob, according to a Lang Mai nun.
The crowd of protesters also interrupted a visit by three
resident EU diplomats (who, according to press reports, returned
for meetings later in the day), and followers report rising
tensions. More seriously, the national Committee for Religious
Affairs (CRA) meanwhile denied requests from two Vietnam
Buddhist Sangha (VBS) pagodas that offered to sponsor the group
in Dong Nai and Dalat, and ordered the followers to disperse and
return to their home provinces. Post continues to call for a
peaceful and legal resolution to the situation. We are meeting
with senior CRA officials on December 14 to express our
concerns, and ConGenOff will visit Lam Dong December 15-17. End
summary.

2. (SBU) On December 9, foreign press reported that a
three-member EU delegation broke off their morning meeting with
Lang Mai followers after approximately 100 angry locals
gathered, shouting threats and calling on Phuoc Hue's leader,
Thich Thai Thuan, to evict the group. The EU delegation later
returned to Phuoc Hue pagoda in the afternoon to meet privately
with Thich Thai Thuan, but a Lang Mai nun told ConGenOff that
protesters smelling of alcohol returned after the delegation
left, and are still protesting at the pagoda. An online video
clip (http://hoitrongbatnha.blogspot.com/) shows several monks
being pushed and shoved by locals inside the pagoda's main
atrium, then switches to a scene inside the pagoda where
townspeople confront a small group of adherents. Near the end
of the clip, the crowd is heard shouting as the monks try to
conduct services. In the video clip, the Lang Mai adherents are
shown passively enduring the shouting and shoving. Our contact
reported that several plainclothes police were interspersed with
the crowd and local police have failed to respond to the
pagoda's requests for assistance. She called the situation
increasingly "dangerous," and asserted that authorities are
using the same tactics employed to force the group out of Bat
Nha pagoda in September.

3. (SBU) Meanwhile, on November 26, the national CRA officially
turned down two sponsorship offers by VBS pagodas in Dalat and
Dong Nai, saying the group did not have permission from local
authorities to gather at religious institutions and instructing
Lang Mai adherents to return to the provinces where they have
legal residency by December 2009. A local media report on the
CRA's decision said the Lang Mai adherents have "breached the
VBS charter and failed to obey the law, threatening the unity of
Vietnam's Buddhist community and the prestige of the national
and Lam Dong VBS."

4. (SBU) Approximately 200 monks and nuns who range in age from
15 to 25 years old are currently residing at Phuoc Hue pagoda.
Among the expelled leaders of Lang Mai, monk Phap Sy remains
under house arrest in Khanh Hoa province, but has been in touch
with ConGen regarding the recent developments in Lam Dong. Monk
Phap Hoi is in Hanoi, while Monk Phap Tu reportedly remains in
hiding at an undisclosed location.

5. (SBU) Comment: The events that preceded the Lang Mai group's
forced eviction from Bat Nha pagoda in September appear to be
repeating themselves at Phuoc Hue, and the tense situation
reported by EU and Lang Mai representatives does not bode well
for a non-violent end to the group's bid to remain together.
The CRA's decision to turn down the two VBS requests for
sponsorship leaves the adherents with no legal recourse, and
post believes the monks and nuns will eventually be forced to
disperse and return to their home provinces. Post continues to
call for a peaceful resolution and protection for the Lang Mai
group, a point we will raise with when we meet the
national-level CRA December 14. We remain in contact with our

HO CHI MIN 00000672 002.2 OF 002


EU colleagues and will press forward with plans to return to Lam
Dong ourselves December 15-17. End comment.

6. (U) This cable was coordinated with Embassy Hanoi.
FAIRFAX

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