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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
01HANOI2884 2001-11-05 09:41:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Hanoi
Cable title:  

GVN'S REACTION TO FATHER LY AND TRAN KHUE

Tags:   PHUM PGOV PINS VM HUMANR RELFREE 
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1. CLASSIFIED BY POL/C SCOTT D. BELLARD, REASON 1.5 (D)



2. (U) SUMMARY: THE GVN EXPLAINS ITS STERN TREATMENT OF
THOSE IT DEEMS "POLITICAL" ACTIVISTS SUCH AS FATHER LY AND
TRAN KHUE IN TERMS OF DEFENDING NATIONAL UNITY. THE GVN
SEEMS PARTICULARLY SENSITIVE TO ITS OWN CITIZENS' CRITIQUES
WHEN THEY ARE INTENDED FOR OVERSEAS AUDIENCES, ALTHOUGH
THIS REACTION DRAWS EVEN MORE FOREIGN INTEREST. EMBASSY
CONTINUES TO REMIND THE GVN THAT WE ARE CONCERNED ABOUT THE
WELFARE OF THESE ACTIVISTS. END SUMMARY.



3. (U) EMBASSY HAS EXPRESSED USG CONCERN OVER FATHER
NGUYEN VAN LY ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS SINCE HE RECEIVED HIS
HARSH CONSECUTIVE SENTENCES TOTALING 15 YEARS ON OCTOBER


19. POL/C RAISED THE SUBJECT TO THE MINISTRY OF FOREIGN
AFFAIRS (MFA) ON OCTOBER 22 (REF A). ON OCTOBER 24 CHARGE
VOICED HIS CONCERN ABOUT LY'S SENTENCING WITH BUI THE GIANG
OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY CENTRAL COMMITTEE'S EXTERNAL
RELATIONS COMMISSION. POLOFF BROUGHT UP THE NEGATIVE
IMPACT OF FATHER LY'S TREATMENT WHILE PRESENTING THE MFA'S
AMERICAS
DEPARTMENT WITH A COPY OF THE 2001 INTERNATIONAL RELIGIOUS
FREEDOM REPORT ON OCTOBER 26, AND AGAIN CITED USG CONCERN AT
LENGTH WITH AMERICAS DEPARTMENT PERSONNEL ON NOVEMBER 1.



4. (U) AS DESCRIBED IN REF A, THE GVN HAS CONSISTENTLY
PRESENTED FATHER LY'S CASE AS NON-RELIGIOUS AND CLAIMS TO
BASE ITS TREATMENT OF HIM NOT AS A RELIGIOUS FIGURE, BUT AS
SOMEONE WHO WAS "INCITING BELIEVERS AND SOWING UNREST."
THE MFA AMERICAS DEPARTMENT'S TRAN THI VAN ON NOVEMBER 1,
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PAGE 03 HANOI 02884 01 OF 02 051001Z
STRESSED THAT THE GVN HAD THOROUGHLY INVESTIGATED LY AND
THAT HIS EARLIER (1997) 2-YEAR PROBATION SENTENCE HAD BEEN
GUIDED BY THE STATE'S "HUMANITARIAN AND TOLERANT POLICY" AS
IT SOUGHT TO "REMIND" HIM OF HOW HE COULD "TRULY HELP THE
COMMUNITY." COMMENTING ON LY'S 13-YEAR SENTENCE FOR
"DAMAGING THE UNITY POLICY," SHE REMARKED THAT THIS IS "A
VERY SERIOUS CRIME," SINCE IT UNDERMINES ONE OF THE
GVN'S CENTRAL POLICIES. VAN ACCUSED LY OF BEING
"SELF-SERVING AND UNWILLING TRULY TO HELP THE PEOPLE."



5. (C) OTHER EMBASSIES ARE ALSO RESPONDING TO THE GVN'S
TREATMENT OF LY. THE DEPARTING FRENCH AMBASSADOR REPORTEDLY
RECEIVED A NEGATIVE REACTION FROM A SENIOR MFA OFFICIAL WHEN
HE BROUGHT UP FATHER LY DURING HIS FINAL CALL. DIPLOMATS FROM
EUROPEAN UNION (EU) MEMBER STATES HAVE TOLD CHARGE AND POLOFF
THAT EU MEMBER COUNTRIES ARE ATTEMPTING TO FORMULATE A UNIFIED
RESPONSE TO FATHER LY'S SENTENCING. ON NOVEMBER 1, A SWEDISH
POLOFF TOLD POLOFF THAT THE EU RESPONSE WOULD PROBABLY COME IN
THE FOLLOWING WEEK. ACCORDING TO BRITISH POLOFF JONATHAN
DUNN, EU MEMBERS DISAGREE OVER HOW STRONG TO MAKE THEIR
RESPONSE BECAUSE OF DOUBTS ABOUT FATHER LY'S INTEGRITY AND
"RESPECTABILITY." THESE DOUBTS INCLUDE ALLEGATIONS SUCH AS
THOSE MADE IN THE LOCAL (STATE-OWNED) MEDIA THAT FATHER LY HAS
FATHERED CHILDREN AS WELL AS MORE GENERAL QUESTIONS ABOUT
WHETHER LY IS HELD IN ANY ESTEEM BY OTHER RELIGIOUS FIGURES,
OR BY "THE PEOPLE" AT LARGE.



6. (C) NETHERLANDS POLOFF MERONA VANDEN HEUVEL TOLD
POLOFF ON OCTOBER 31 THAT SHE HAD SPOKEN TO SEVERAL
RELIGIOUS FIGURES IN THUA TIEN HUE PROVINCE ABOUT FATHER LY
DURING THE WEEK AFTER HIS OCTOBER 19 SENTENCING. SHE SAID
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PAGE 04 HANOI 02884 01 OF 02 051001Z
BUDDHIST NUNS THERE HAD SAID THAT THEY WERE SADDENED BY
LY'S SENTENCE BECAUSE IT SHOWED HOW STRONGLY THE
AUTHORITIES REACT AGAINST THOSE WHO SPEAK OUT. (NOTE: THESE
NUNS ARE PROBABLY AFFILIATED WITH THE UNITED BUDDHIST
CHURCH OF VIETNAM (UBCV). END NOTE.) THE NUNS CLAIMED
THAT LY'S SENTENCE WAS SO HARSH BECAUSE BY SENDING HIS
CRITIQUES OVERSEAS, HE HAD EMBARRASSED THE AUTHORITIES
INTERNATIONALLY, A MUCH WORSE OFFENSE THAN CRITICIZING THEM
DOMESTICALLY. THE NETHERLANDS POLOFF ALSO REPORTED
HAVING SPOKEN WITH PROMINENT UBCV MONK THICH THAI HOA, WHO IS
CURRENTLY UNDER ADMINISTRATIVE DETENTION. HE WAS ALSO
REPORTEDLY SADDENED BY LY'S SENTENCE, BUT NOT AT ALL
SURPRISED. THE DEPUTY CHAIRMAN OF THE THUA TIEN HUE
PROVINCIAL PEOPLE'S COMMITTEE COMPLAINED TO THE DUTCH
AMBASSADOR THAT EVENING, ACCORDING TO VANDEN HEUVEL, THAT
IT WAS INAPPROPRIATE FOR HER TO HAVE VISITED THICH THAI
HOA.



7. (SBU) POLOFF ALSO ASKED MFA AMERICAS DEPARTMENT'S MS.
VAN ABOUT THE CURRENT STATUS OF THE INDIVIDUALS WHO HAD
SOUGHT GOVERNMENT PERMISSION TO FORM AN ANTI-CORRUPTION NGO
IN EARLY SEPTEMBER (REF C). VAN, NAMING TRAN KHUE WITHOUT
SPECIFIC PROMPTING, SAID THAT HE HAD NOT BEEN BROUGHT
BEFORE THE COURTS, BUT WOULD BE IF HE CONTINUED TO ENGAGE

CONFIDENTIAL


IN ACTIVITIES THAT WERE NOT "APPROPRIATE." SHE COMPARED
KHUE TO FATHER LY, CLAIMING THAT HE ALSO WAS ACTING IN HIS
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PAGE 02 HANOI 02884 02 OF 02 051001Z
OWN INTEREST AND WAS NOT TRULY INTERESTED IN HELPING "THE
PEOPLE." WHEN ASKED, SHE STATED SPECIFICALLY THAT HE WAS
NOT UNDER ADMINISTRATIVE DETENTION (DECREE 31/CP), BUT WAS
AS FREE TO TRAVEL AND TO SPEAK TO PEOPLE AS ANYONE ELSE.
(NOTE: HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH REPORTED RECEIVING INFORMATION
FROM TRAN KHUE THAT HE HAD RECEIVED AN ORDER DATED OCTOBER 17
PLACING HIM UNDER ADMINISTRATIVE DETENTION. ACCORDING TO
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH'S INFORMATION, KHUE REFUSED TO ACCEPT
THIS ORDER, SO IT WAS NOT YET IN EFFECT. THEREFORE, EVEN IF
SUCH AN ORDER HAS BEEN ISSUED, MS. VAN MAY TECHNICALLY HAVE
BEEN CORRECT. END NOTE.) VAN REITERATED AN EARLIER
RECOMMENDATION (REF D) NOT TO CONTACT MEMBERS OF THIS
GROUP DIRECTLY BECAUSE IT WOULD HURT BILATERAL RELATIONS AT
A SENSITIVE TIME.



8. (C) COMMENT: EMBOFFS WILL CONTINUE FORCEFULLY TO
EXPRESS OUR DISMAY OVER FATHER LY'S SENTENCING. REGRETTABLY,
EMBASSY CONTINUES TO DOUBT THAT SUCH EXPRESSIONS WILL HAVE ANY
NOTICEABLE IMPACT IN CASES DEEMED BY THE GVN AS ESPECIALLY
SENSITIVE.
PORTER

CONFIDENTIAL