wikileaks ico  Home papers ico  Cables mirror and Afghan War Diary privacy policy  Privacy
IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
01HANOI2136 2001-08-30 08:19:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Hanoi
Cable title:  

STAFFDEL REES VISIT TO CATHOLIC CHARITY IN HCMC

Tags:   PHUM KIRF VM RELFREE HUMANR 
pdf how-to read a cable
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.


2001HANOI02136 - CONFIDENTIAL
 
 
 
                           CONFIDENTIAL     PTQ5334

PAGE 01        HANOI  02136  01 OF 02  300933Z 
ACTION H-01     

INFO  LOG-00   DS-00    EAP-00   TEDE-00  SS-00    DSCC-00  DRL-02   
      SAS-00     /003W
                  ------------------18B4ED  300934Z /38    
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 3817
INFO AMEMBASSY BEIJING 
AMCONSUL HONG KONG 
AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 
AMEMBASSY TOKYO 
ASEAN COLLECTIVE
NSC WASHDC
SECDEF WASHDC
USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI
DIA WASHDC
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HANOI 002136 

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/BCLTV AND DRL
SECDEF FOR ISA/LSTERN

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/29/11
TAGS: PHUM KIRF VM RELFREE HUMANR
SUBJECT: STAFFDEL REES VISIT TO CATHOLIC CHARITY IN HCMC



1. (U) CLASSIFIED BY: CHARGE D'AFFAIRES ROBERT PORTER.
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 02 HANOI 02136 01 OF 02 300933Z
REASON: 1.5 (B) AND (D).



2. (C) SUMMARY: IN A MEETING WITH STAFFDEL AT A SHELTER
FOR GIRLS IN HCMC, A CATHOLIC NUN DESCRIBED A GRADUAL
TENDENCY ON THE PART OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT TO ALLOW
GREATER LATITUDE TO THE NUNS TO OPERATE THE SHELTER,
ALBEIT WITH SOME CONTINUED RESTRICTIONS ON THEIR
ACTIVITIES. THE SHELTER IS ONE OF A NUMBER OF CATHOLIC
CHARITABLE ESTABLISHMENTS THAT HAVE OPENED OVER THE
PAST SEVERAL YEARS. THE NUNS AND THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT
SEEM TO HAVE BUILT UP A GREAT DEAL OF TRUST IN THE PAST
FEW YEARS, BUT SOME UNEASINESS REMAINS ON BOTH SIDES.
END SUMMARY.

RELATIONS WITH THE GOVERNMENT


--------------------------





3. (C) ON AUGUST 14, JOSEPH REES (COUNSEL TO THE HOUSE
COMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS) AND BRIAN
GUNDERSON (CHIEF OF STAFF TO HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER)
VISITED THE THANH XUAN HOUSE FOR GIRLS IN HCMC, A
SHELTER FOR GIRLS IN DANGER OF SEXUAL OR LABOR
EXPLOITATION MANAGED BY TWO CATHOLIC NUNS.



4. (C) ACCORDING TO SISTER LIEN (WHO BELONGS TO THE
CATHOLIC ORDER AMOUR DE LA CROIX), SISTER GIAO OF THE
FRANCISCAN ORDER FIRST ESTABLISHED THANH XUAN HOUSE IN


1995. SISTER GIAO HAD RECOGNIZED THE NEED FOR A
SHELTER FOR YOUNG GIRLS WHO HAD BEEN SEXUALLY ABUSED OR
WHO WERE BEING FORCED INTO EXPLOITATIVE LABOR
SITUATIONS. HER GOAL WAS ALSO TO BEGIN HEALING THE
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 03 HANOI 02136 01 OF 02 300933Z
WOUNDS OF ABUSE. GIRLS WERE REFERRED BY A PARENT OR BY
CONCERNED NEIGHBORS IN HCMC'S BINH THANH DISTRICT,
WHERE THE HOUSE WAS LOCATED. WITHIN A WEEK OF ITS
ESTABLISHMENT, DISTRICT AUTHORITIES CLOSED THE HOUSE
FOR TWO MONTHS UNTIL SISTER GIAO RECEIVED AN OFFICIAL
PERMIT. (NOTE: SISTER GIAO WAS OUT OF TOWN DURING THE
STAFFDEL'S VISIT AND SO WAS UNABLE TO MEET WITH THEM.)



5. (C) SISTER LIEN RECOUNTED THAT ONE OF THE CONDITIONS
OF THE OFFICIAL PERMIT WAS THAT THE LOCAL DISTRICT
DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, INVALIDS AND SOCIAL AFFAIRS
(DOLISA) WOULD OFFICIALLY MANAGE THE HOUSE. DOLISA
ASSIGNED THREE SOCIAL WORKERS TO OPERATE THE HOUSE,
ALLOWING SISTER GIAO ONLY TO ASSIST. AFTER THREE OR
FOUR MONTHS, ALL THREE DOLISA WORKERS QUIT THE JOB, SO
DOLISA RECRUITED THREE MORE SOCIAL WORKERS; ALL OF THEM
ALSO DEPARTED WITHIN SIX MONTHS. WHEN IT BECAME
APPARENT DOLISA WOULD CONTINUE TO HAVE DIFFICULTIES
FINDING SOCIAL WORKERS TO FILL THE JOBS, IT ALLOWED
SISTER GIAO TO TAKE OVER MANAGEMENT OF THE HOUSE AND TO
BRING ON SISTER LIEN AS AN ASSISTANT, SHE SAID.



6. (C) THE GOVERNMENT GIVES THANH XUAN HOUSE NO
FINANCIAL SUPPORT, STATED SISTER LIEN. ALL DONATIONS
ARE MADE PRIVATELY; MOST COME FROM INDIVIDUALS. SISTER
LIEN SAID THE BULK OF THE CHARITY'S CURRENT FUNDING
COMES FROM FRIENDS AND RELATIVES OF SISTER GIAO WHO
LIVE IN THE U.S. SISTER LIEN ADDED THAT THE DOLISA
MANAGEMENT BOARD HAD INSPECTED THE HOUSE ONCE OR TWICE
EVERY WEEK IN THE FIRST TWO YEARS OF ITS EXISTENCE, BUT
NOW ONLY ONCE EVERY COUPLE OF MONTHS. SHE SAID LOCAL
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 04 HANOI 02136 01 OF 02 300933Z
POLICE ALSO COME BY OCCASIONALLY.



7. (C) SISTER LIEN EMPHASIZED SHE AND SISTER GIAO
GENERALLY HAVE A FREE HAND IN RUNNING THANH XUAN HOUSE.
THERE ARE ONLY TWO NOTABLE RESTRICTIONS: FIRST, SHE AND
SISTER GIAO ARE NOT ALLOWED TO WEAR RELIGIOUS CLOTHES
THAT WOULD IDENTIFY THEM AS CATHOLIC NUNS. SECOND,
THEY ARE NOT ALLOWED TO TEACH RELIGION IN THE HOUSE.
THE GIRLS ARE ALLOWED, HOWEVER, TO ATTEND RELIGIOUS
SERVICES OF THEIR OWN FAITH. SISTER LIEN SAID THAT
AMONG THE 26 GIRLS CURRENTLY RESIDENT AT THE HOUSE,
THERE ARE ABOUT AN EQUAL NUMBER OF CATHOLICS AND
BUDDHISTS, ALONG WITH ONE CAO DAI BELIEVER AND ONE
MUSLIM. (DURING A TOUR OF THE LIVING QUARTERS, STAFFDEL
SAW A LARGE POSTER OF JESUS CHRIST OVER ONE OF THE
BEDS, AND A SMALL BUDDHA STATUE NEXT TO ANOTHER BED.)
SHE SAID THAT SOME OF THE CATHOLIC GIRLS GO TO DAILY
MASS. SHE NOTED THAT THE POLICE COME AROUND NEAR
CHRISTMAS AND EASTER TO ASK IF THE NUNS HAVE ANY
SPECIAL PLANS FOR THE CHILDREN. "WE DO ORGANIZE A
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 02 HANOI 02136 02 OF 02 300934Z
CHRISTMAS PARTY," SISTER LIEN SAID, "AND WE INVITE THE
POLICE TO ATTEND. THEY DON'T COME, BUT THEY DON'T
BOTHER US ABOUT IT, BECAUSE IT IS AN INTERNATIONALLY
RECOGNIZED HOLIDAY."



8. (C) SISTER LIEN STATED THAT THANH XUAN HOUSE IS
LICENSED TO HOLD UP TO 20 GIRLS, BUT CURRENTLY HAS 26
RESIDENTS. SISTER GIAO HAS APPLIED TO DOLISA TO
UPGRADE AND EXPAND, BUT SO FAR PERMISSION HAS NOT BEEN
FORTHCOMING. SHE NOTED WITH SOME APPARENT BITTERNESS
THAT A NEWER SHELTER IN THE SAME LOCAL DISTRICT,
MANAGED BY THE DISTRICT WOMEN'S UNION, RECENTLY
UPGRADED ITS FACILITIES WITH THE HELP OF FUNDS FROM THE
GOVERNMENTS OF AUSTRALIA AND CANADA. THE GVN DIRECTS
INTERNATIONAL AID TOWARD GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS, SHE
CLAIMED. SHE ADDED THAT THE POLICE HAD VISITED THE DAY
BEFORE TO INQUIRE ABOUT THE STAFFDEL VISIT. SHE SAID
SHE UNDERSTOOD THIS TO BE A WARNING TO BE CAREFUL ABOUT
WHAT SHE SAID TO THE STAFFDEL.

HEALING THE WOUNDS OF ABUSE


--------------------------





9. (SBU) ACCORDING TO SISTER LIEN, THANH XUAN HOUSE IS
ALLOWED TO PROVIDE SHELTER TO GIRLS UP TO THE AGE OF


18. ALTHOUGH CURRENTLY ALL 26 GIRLS SHELTERED AT THE
HOUSE AT ARE BETWEEN THE AGES OF 6 TO 14, SEVERAL GIRLS
UP TO THE AGE OF 18 HAVE STAYED AT THE HOUSE
PREVIOUSLY. MOST OF THE GIRLS ATTEND REGULAR PUBLIC
SCHOOLS. ACCORDING TO SISTER LIEN, THE NUNS TRAIN ALL
THE GIRLS TO MAKE HANDICRAFTS AFTER REGULAR SCHOOL
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 03 HANOI 02136 02 OF 02 300934Z
HOURS. IN ADDITION, WHEN GIRLS 15- TO 18-YEARS OLD ARE
RESIDENT AT THE HOUSE, THE NUNS ARRANGE FOR THEM TO
RECEIVE VOCATIONAL TRAINNG IN PHOTOGRAPHY AND SEWING.



10. (SBU) SISTER IEN POINTED OUT SEVERAL OF THE GIRLS
AND GAVE A KETCH OF EACH ONE'S PERSONAL HISTORY. A
NEIGHBO RAPED ONE 6-YEAR-OLD. THE MOTHER BROUGHT HER
TO THANH XUAN HOUSE FOR PROTECTION. THE MOTHER OF A 9-
YEAR-OLD HAS TUBERCULOSIS, SO THE CHILD WAS BROUGHT TO
THE HOUSE UNTIL MEDICATIONS RENDERED THE MOTHER NON-
INFECTIOUS. A 7-YEAR-OLD HAD BEEN SOLD BY HER PARENTS
TO A BROKER IN DONG NAI PROVINCE WHO IN TURN SOLD HER
TO A CHILDLESS COUPLE. THE NEW FATHER BEAT HER SO
SEVERELY, HOWEVER, THAT THE NEIGHBORS REPORTED IT TO
THE POLICE. SISTER LIEN SAID MOST OF THE GIRLS AT THE
HOUSE HAD BEEN BROUGHT BY THE POLICE, BY THE LOCAL
YOUTH UNION, OR BY THE LOCAL WOMEN'S UNION.



11. (SBU) SISTER LIEN SAID SHE FINDS EMPLOYMENT FOR
GIRLS WHO ARE TURNING 18 AND CAN NO LONGER STAY AT THE
HOUSE. SHE AND SISTER GIAO ALSO TRY TO RECONCILE THE
GIRLS WITH THEIR PARENTS WHEN POSSIBLE. SHE SAID 40
GIRLS HAVE ALREADY"GRADUATED," AND SHE MAINTAINS
CONTACT WITH ALL F THEM. MOST HAVE GONE ON TO HAPPIER
LIVES, BUT OT ALL OF THEM. AT PRESENT, SHE IS
MONITORING TE SITUATION OF A 14-YEAR-OLD GIRL WHO
RETURNED HME, BUT WHOSE STEPFATHER MAY BE TREATING HER
UNKNDLY.

COMMENT


--------------------------


CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 04 HANOI 02136 02 OF 02 300934Z



12. (C) THANH XUAN HUSE FOR GIRLS IS ONLY ONE OF
SEVERAL CATHOLIC CHAITABLE INSTITUTIONS THAT HAVE
OPENED IN THE PAST SEVERAL YEARS IN HCMC AND IN OTHER
TOWNS IN SOUTHERN VIETNAM. LOCAL GOVERNMENTS STILL
APPEAR TO BE WARY OF NON-GOVERNMENT ORGANIZATIONS AND
SEEK TO CONTROL THEM BY AFFILIATING THEM WITH A LOCAL
GOVERNMENT AGENCY AND BY CLOSE MONITORING. HOWEVER, IT
APPEARS THAT AS LOCAL OFFICIALS RECOGNIZE THAT THANH
XUAN HOUSE AND OTHER PRIVATE CHARITABLE INSTITUTIONS
ARE HELPING TO MEET SOME OF HCMC'S MOST SERIOUS SOCIAL
AND HUMANITARIAN NEEDS, THEIR INSISTENCE ON OVERT
CONTROL AND MONITORING IS GRADUALLY GIVING WAY TO AN
ATTITUDE OF MORE TRUST AND CONFIDENCE.



13. (U) THE STAFFDEL DID NOT HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO
CLEAR THIS CABLE BEFORE DEPARTURE.

PORTER

CONFIDENTIAL