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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
01HANOI2150 2001-08-31 06:53:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Hanoi
Cable title:  

STAFFDEL MEETING AND ATTEMPTED MEETING WITH RELIGIOUS FIGURES IN HCMC

Tags:   PHUM KIRF VM HUMANR RELFREE 
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310653Z Aug 01

2001HANOI02150 - CONFIDENTIAL
 
 
 
                           CONFIDENTIAL     PTQ8723

PAGE 01        HANOI  02150  01 OF 02  310808Z 
ACTION H-01     

INFO  LOG-00   DS-00    EAP-00   TEDE-00  IO-00    OIC-02   SS-00    
      DSCC-00  DRL-02   SAS-00     /005W
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FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 3826
INFO AMEMBASSY BEIJING 
AMCONSUL HONG KONG 
AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 
AMEMBASSY TOKYO 
ASEAN COLLECTIVE
NSC WASHDC
SECDEF WASHDC
USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI
DIA WASHDC
USMISSION GENEVA
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HANOI 002150 

SIPDIS

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

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/31/11
TAGS: PHUM KIRF VM HUMANR RELFREE
SUBJECT: STAFFDEL MEETING AND ATTEMPTED MEETING WITH RELIGIOUS FIGURES IN HCMC
CONFIDENTIAL


PAGE 02 HANOI 02150 01 OF 02 310808Z

REF: A. HCMC 0699 AND PREVIOUS B. HCMC 0302



1. (U) CLASSIFIED BY CHARGE D'AFFAIRES ROBERT PORTER.
REASON: 1.5 (B) AND (D).



2. (C) SUMMARY: ON AUGUST 14, STAFFDEL REES MET IN HCMC
WITH HOA HAO RELIGIOUS ELDER TRAN HUU DUYEN WHO PASSED A
LIST OF 20 HOA HAO PRISONERS, SOME OF WHOM MISSION
PREVIOUSLY HAD BEEN UNAWARE. ON THE SAME DAY, THE STAFFDEL
ATTEMPTED UNSUCCESSFULLY TO MEET WITH BUDDHIST MONK THICH
QUANG DO WHO REMAINS UNDER ADMINISTRATIVE DETENTION,
CONFINED TO HIS LIVING QUARTERS AND NOT PERMITTED TO
RECEIVE VISITORS. END SUMMARY.

ATTEMPTED VISIT TO THICH QUANG DO


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





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) WENT
UNACCOMPANIED BY TAXI TO THE THANH MINH ZEN MONASTERY,
RESIDENCE OF BUDDHIST MONK THICH QUANG DO. QUANG DO HAS
BEEN UNDER ADMINISTRATIVE DETENTION SINCE EARLY JUNE,
CONFINED TO HIS LIVING QUARTERS. HE IS NOT PERMITTED TO
RECEIVE VISITORS, AND THE PHONE LINES TO THE MONASTERY HAVE
BEEN CUT (SEE REF A). UPON THEIR RETURN FROM THE
MONASTERY, REES AND GUNDERSON RECOUNTED TO CONGENOFF WHAT
TRANSPIRED THERE.



4. (C) REES STATED THAT THE TAXI DROPPED HIM AND GUNDERSON
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 03 HANOI 02150 01 OF 02 310808Z
OFF ON THE NARROW STREET IN FRONT OF THE MONASTERY, AND
THEY WALKED THROUGH THE OPEN GATE LEADING INTO THE
MONASTERY'S ENTRANCEWAY. IN FRONT OF THEM WAS A PAGODA,
AND TO THE LEFT WAS AN ADJACENT BUILDING, THE SECOND FLOOR
OF WHICH IS THICH QUANG DO'S LIVING QUARTERS. ON ENTERING
THE COMPOUND, REES AND GUNDERSON ENCOUNTERED AN ELDERLY
BUDDHIST NUN AND A SMALL GIRL WHOM REES SAID HE JUDGED TO
BE 10 OR 12 YEARS OLD. REES SAID HE TOLD THE ELDERLY NUN
THEY HAD COME TO VISIT THICH QUANG DO. REES SAID THE NUN
APPEARED TAKEN ABACK AND NERVOUS. SHE TOLD THEM IN ENGLISH
THAT NO ONE WAS ALLOWED TO VISIT THICH QUANG DO. REES
STATED THAT THE SMALL GIRL THEN EXITED THROUGH THE GATE.
HE SAID HE EXPECTED HER TO RETURN WITH THE POLICE. HE
NOTED THAT UP TO THAT POINT, HE HAD BEEN SURPRISED TO SEE
NO APPARENT POLICE PRESENCE EITHER INSIDE THE MONASTERY
COMPOUND OR OUTSIDE THE GATE.



5. (C) REES SAID HE AND GUNDERSON LOITERED IN FRONT OF THE
PAGODA FOR SOME MINUTES. THE ELDERLY NUN THEN INVITED THEM
INTO THE VESTIBULE OF THE PAGODA, SAT THEM DOWN AND SERVED
THEM TEA. HE SAID THEY WAITED AROUND FOR AT LEAST 20
MINUTES TAKING NOTE OF THE UNCOMPLETED RENOVATIONS AT THE
PAGODA. THERE WAS NO ACTIVITY, NO SIGN OF THE LITTLE GIRL
OR THE POLICE. REES AND GUNDERSON ASKED THE ELDERLY NUN
ONE MORE TIME IF THEY COULD GO UP TO VISIT THICH QUANG DO.
THE NUN WAS APOLOGETIC, ACCORDING TO REES, BUT ANSWERED
THAT THICH QUANG DO WAS NOT ALLOWED TO RECEIVE VISITORS.
REES SAID HE AND GUNDERSON DECIDED NOT TO PRESS THE POINT,
TOOK THEIR LEAVE, AND RETURNED VIA TAXI TO THEIR HOTEL.

MEETING WITH HOA HAO ELDER TRAN HUU DUYEN
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 04 HANOI 02150 01 OF 02 310808Z


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





6. (C) EARLIER THE SAME DAY, REES AND GUNDERSON,
ACCOMPANIED BY CONGENOFF, VISITED HOA HAO ELDER TRAN HUU
DUYEN AT HIS SMALL OFFICE IN HCMC. DUYEN THANKED REES FOR
VISITING HIS FAMILY IN HCMC IN 1997 WHILE DUYEN WAS IN
PRISON. HE ALSO SAID HE BELIEVED REES'S EFFORTS WORKING
WITH HOA HAO LEADERS RESIDENT IN THE U.S. HELPED PERSUADE
THE GVN TO RELEASE HIM IN A PRISONER AMNESTY IN 1998.
DUYEN THEN PASSED THE STAFFDEL A LIST OF 20 HOA HAO
PRISONERS AND PERSONS UNDER ADMINISTRATIVE DETENTION, FIVE
OF THE NAMES OF WHOM MISSION PREVIOUSLY HAD BEEN UNAWARE.
FOLLOWING ARE THE NEW NAMES AND TRANSLATIONS OF DUYEN'S
HANDWRITTEN ANNOTATIONS:

LE VAN TINH (IMPRISONED AROUND 1990; Z30 PRISON, XUAN LOC)
LE VAN SON (IMPRISONED AROUND 1985; BADLY ILL; Z30 PRISON)
NGUYEN VAN DAO (IMPRISONED SOMETIME BEFORE 1999, BADLY ILL)
MS. PHAN THI TIEM (ARRESTED JULY 24, 2001 IN AN GIANG
PROVINCE FOR INVOLVEMENT IN MS. THU'S SELF-IMMOLATION)
MS. TRAN THI DUYEN (ARRESTED JULY 24, 2001 IN AN GIANG
PROVINCE FOR INVOLVEMENT IN MS. THU'S SELF-IMMOLATION)
(NOTE: MS. NGUYEN THI THU, A MEMBER OF A DISSIDENT HOA HAO
ORGANIZATION, KILLED HERSELF BY IMMOLATION ON MARCH 19,
2001 (SEE REF B). MISSION HAS YET TO CONFIRM THE
INFORMATION PROVIDED BY DUYEN WITH ANY OTHER SOURCES. END
NOTE.)



7. (C) DUYEN TOLD THE STAFFDEL THAT THE SITUATION FOR HOA
HAO BELIEVERS IN VIETNAM HAD IMPROVED SINCE THE GVN FORMED
A HOA HAO ADMINISTRATIVE COMMITTEE AND LEGALLY RECOGNIZED
THE HOA HAO RELIGION IN 1999. THE IMPROVEMENTS HE NOTED
INCLUDED THE ABILITY OF BELIEVERS TO CELEBRATE OPENLY THE
HOA HAO FOUNDING DAY AND THE FOUNDER'S BIRTHDAY. DUYEN
EMPHASIZED, HOWEVER, THAT SERIOUS RESTRICTIONS REMAINED,
INCLUDING PROHIBITIONS ON DISPLAYING THE HOA HAO FLAG AND A
BAN ON ORGANIZED COMMEMORATIONS OF THE FOUNDER'S DEATH
ANNIVERSARY. HE ADDED THAT THE ELEVEN-MEMBER HOA HAO
ADMINISTRATIVE COMMITTEE WAS NOT CHOSEN FREELY BY HOA HAO
BELIEVERS AND DOES NOT REPRESENT THE INTERESTS OF THE HOA
HAO COMMUNITY. HE ADMITTED THAT ALL ELEVEN MEMBERS OF THE
COMMITTEE ARE HOA HAO FOLLOWERS, BUT CLAIMED THAT NINE OF
THEM ARE ALSO COMMUNIST PARTY MEMBERS. "DECISIONS BY THE
COMMITTEE REPRESENT GOVERNMENT, RATHER THAN HOA HAO
INTERESTS," HE CLAIMED.



8. (C) DESPITE HIS STATED LACK OF CONFIDENCE IN THE
GOVERNMENT-SANCTIONED HOA HAO ADMINISTRATIVE COMMITTEE,
DUYEN DECLARED THAT HE DOES NOT SUPPORT THE DISSIDENT HOA
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 03 HANOI 02150 02 OF 02 310808Z
HAO ORGANIZATION ESTABLISHED LAST YEAR UNDER PRE-1975 HOA
HAO LEDER LE QUANG LIEM. THAT GROUP IS TOO
CONFRONTATONAL AND ENGAGES IN ACTIVITIES SUCH AS HUNGER
STIKES AND IMMOLATIONS THAT THE FOUNDER WOULD NEVER AVE
APPROVED, CLAIMED DUYEN. THERE ARE OTHER HOAHAO GROUPS,
SUCH AS THE ONE REPRESENTED BY MS. HYNH MAI IN THE U.S.,
SAID DUYEN, THAT ARE MORE MDERATE IN THEIR APPROACH TO THE
GVN IN TRYING TOGAIN MORE FREEDOM FOR HOA HAO BELIEVERS.
DUYEN AVISED THAT THE USG ALSO SHOULD TAKE A MODERATE
APROACH WHEN DEALING WITH THE GVN ON HUMAN RIGHTS ISUES.
HE URGED THE USG TO CONTINUE TO ENGAGE THE VN ON HUMAN
RIGHTS AND RELIGIOUS FREEDOM, BUT TOREALIZE THAT PROGRESS
WOULD OCCUR ONLY ONE STEP T A TIME.



9. (U) THE STAFFDEL DID NOT HAVE AN OPORTUNITY TO CLEAR
THIS MESSAGE BEFORE DEPARTURE.

PORTER

CONFIDENTIAL