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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
01HOCHIMINHCITY1183
2001-10-17 08:03:00
UNCLASSIFIED
Consulate Ho Chi Minh City
Cable title:  

FORMER SAIGON COMMUNIST PARTY CHIEF REFLECTS ON FIGHT AGAINST TERRORISM AND VIETNAM HUMAN RIGHTS ACT

Tags:   PREL  PHUM  PTER  VM  HUMANR  CTERR 
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2001HOCHI01183 - UNCLASSIFIED
 
 
 
                           UNCLASSIFIED     PTQ9603

PAGE 01        HO CHI  01183  01 OF 02  170847Z 
ACTION EAP-00   

INFO  LOG-00   NP-00    ACQ-00   CIAE-00  DS-00    FBIE-00  UTED-00  
      VC-00    TEDE-00  INR-00   LAB-01   VCE-00   DCP-01   NSAE-00  
      SCT-00   SS-00    TEST-00  USIE-00  ASDS-01  IIP-00   DSCC-00  
      DRL-02   NFAT-00  SAS-00     /005W
                  ------------------304B40  170848Z /38    
FM AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 5613
INFO AMEMBASSY HANOI 
ASEAN COLLECTIVE
USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI
JICPAC HONOLULU HI
SECDEF WASHDC
DIA WASHDC
NSC WASHDC
						UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HO CHI MINH CITY 001183 

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/BCLTV AND EAP/PD/MSPEER
DEPARTMENT ALSO FOR DRL
CINCPAC FOR FPA
SECDEF FOR ISA/EA/ABLAGG

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PHUM PTER VM HUMANR CTERR
SUBJECT: FORMER SAIGON COMMUNIST PARTY CHIEF REFLECTS ON FIGHT AGAINST TERRORISM AND VIETNAM HUMAN RIGHTS ACT
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 02 HO CHI 01183 01 OF 02 170847Z



1. SUMMARY: IN A MEETING WITH EAP/BCLTV DIRECTOR JUDITH
STROTZ, FORMER SAIGON COMMUNIST PARTY SECRETARY TRAN
BACH DANG EXPRESSED SUPPORT FOR THE U.S. FIGHT AGAINST
TERRORISM. HE ALSO EXPRESSED HIS EXTREME DISAPPROVAL
OF THE VIETNAM HUMAN RIGHTS ACT (PENDING BEFORE THE
SENATE) BECAUSE, HE SAID, IT SINGLES OUT VIETNAM
UNFAIRLY FROM AMONG OTHER COUNTRIES. THE CONVERSATION
WITH DANG, A SENIOR VIETNAMESE STATESMAN, REFLECTED THE
COMPLEXITIES AND LINGERING AMBIVALENCE IN THE U.S.-
VIETNAM RELATIONSHIP. END SUMMARY.

ADVICE FROM THE COMMANDER OF THE SAIGON TET OFFENSIVE


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



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





2. MEETING WITH EAP/BCLTV DIRECTOR STROTZ ON OCTOBER 8
AT HIS RESIDENCE, DANG SAID HE WAS "SHOCKED" AT THE
ATTACK ON THE WORLD TRADE CENTER. HE SAID THE KILLING
OF CIVILIANS WAS SIMPLY "UNACCEPTABLE." THE 75-YEAR-
OLD DANG, WHO WAS COMMUNIST PARTY SECRETARY FROM 1965-
73, TOLD STROTZ THAT IN 1968, HE WAS COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF
OF THE TET OFFENSIVE IN SAIGON AND CHOLON. "WE ATTACKED
THE U.S. EMBASSY IN SAIGON, BUT WE NEVER CONSIDERED
THAT TO BE A TERRORIST ACT." DANG SAID HE SUPPORTED
THE U.S. FIGHT AGAINST TERRORISM AND ALSO WOULD SUPPORT
THE OVERTHROW OF THE TALIBAN IN AFGHANISTAN.



3. DANG RECALLED THAT WHEN THE VIET MINH WAS
CONSOLIDATING ITS POWER IN THE 1950'S, IT FOUGHT
SEVERAL BATTLES AGAINST THE HOA HAO BUDDHIST MILITIA IN
SOUTHERN VIETNAM. "WE HAD GUNS," HE SAID. "THE HOA
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 03 HO CHI 01183 01 OF 02 170847Z
HAO HAD ONLY KNIVES AND STICKS." AFTER KILLING THE
FIRST WAVES OF HOA HAO FORCES, HE SAID, THE VIET MINH
REGROUPED, NOT BECAUSE OF LOSSES, BUT BECAUSE "WE FELT
WE COULDN'T KILL PEOPLE THAT WAY." DANG SUGGESTED THAT
IF U.S. GROUND FORCES LANDED IN AFGHANISTAN, THEY COULD
FACE A SIMILAR COMPLEX SITUATION. HE SAID THE U.S.
SHOULD RELY ON THE NORTHERN ALLIANCE OR ANOTHER AFGHAN
GROUP TO OVERTHROW THE TALIBAN. IN A STATEMENT THAT
SEEMED IRONIC COMING FROM THE VIET CONG VETERAN, DANG
ECHOED VIETNAM, THE OLD COMMUNIST PARTY CHIEF SAID THAT
WITHOUT THE SUPPORT OF THE AFGHAN PEOPLE, IT WOULD BE
DIFFICULT FOR THE U.S. TO PREVAIL.



4. NOTING THAT HE WAS MADE AN HONORARY CITIZEN OF
LUBBOCK, TEXAS AND AN HONORARY MEMBER OF THE U.S.
ROTARY CLUB DURING HIS FIRST VISIT TO THE U.S. IN 1999,
DANGHE SAID HE HAS MANY AMERICAN FRIENDS. HE SAID HE
REGRETTED THE POSSIBLE LOSS OF U.S. LIVES AND ADVISED
THAT MILITARY ACTIONS IN AFGHANISTAN BE SWIFT BECAUSE
U.S. SOLDIERS WOULD HAVE A DIFFICULT TIME IN THE AFGHAN
WINTER. DANG SAID HE OPPOSES TERRORISM IN ANY FORM,
INCLUDING ACTS OF TERRORISM BY PALESTINIAN GROUPS OR

PERSONS. HE NOTED, HOWEVER, THAT HE BELIEVED U.S.
POLICIES TOWARD ISRAEL VIS--VIS THE PALESTINIANS WERE
"DANGEROUS." HE SAID HE THOUGHT THE U.S. SHOULD USE
ITS POWER TO "RESTRAIN ISRAEL."



5. EAP/BCLTV DIRECTOR STROTZ THANKED DANG FOR HIS
INSIGHTS AND SUPPORT. SHE ADDED THAT THE U.S. DOES NOT
WISH TO SEE AFGHAN CIVILIANS KILLED OR INJURED AND THAT
THE U.S. HAS LAUNCHED A LARGE HUMANITARIAN EFFORT TO
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 04 HO CHI 01183 01 OF 02 170847Z
ASSIST THE AFGHAN PEOPLE. SHE SAID THE U.S. WAS
LEADING DIPLOMATIC AND FINANCIAL EFFORTS, NOT JUST
MILITARY EFFORTS, TO FIGHT TERRORISM.

"SHUT THE VIETNAM HUMAN RIGHTS ACT UP IN A DRAWER"


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



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





6. EAP/BCLTV DIRECTOR STROTZ ASKED DANG TO EXPLAIN THE
STRONG REACTION IN VIETNAM AGAINST THE VIETNAM HUMAN
RIGHTS ACT (VNHRA) CURRENTLY PENDING BEFORE THE SENATE.
IN AN OFTEN EMOTIONAL VOICE, THAT AT TIMES SHOWED
EMOTION, DANG SAID THE ACT WENT AGAINST INTERNATIONAL
NORMS AND BEHAVIOR. "BY ITS VERY NAME, IT SINGLES OUT
VIETNAM," HE SAID. HE ADMITTED VIETNAM WAS "NOT
PERFECT" IN TERMS OF HUMAN RIGHTS, BUT NOTED THAT ITS
HUMAN RIGHTS RECORD WAS NOT POOR IN COMPARISON TO OTHER
COUNTRIES SUCH AS AFGHANISTAN.



7. ACCORDING TO DANG, VIETNAM FOUGHT UNTIL 1975 TO
OBTAIN THE MOST BASIC OF HUMAN RIGHTS - INDEPENDENCE.
HE SAID ANOTHER BASIC HUMAN RIGHT WAS HAVING ENOUGH TO
EAT. IN 1944-45, TWO MILLION VIETNAMESE DIED OF
STARVATION UNDER JAPANESE OCCUPATION. IN COMPARISON,
HE SAID, TODAY'S HUMAN RIGHTS PROBLEMS ARE LAUGHABLE.
VIETNAM'S LEADERS ARE ATTEMPTING TO IMPROVE ITS
CITIZENS' HUMAN RIGHTS, DANG SAID, BUT IMPROVEMENTS
CANNOT HAPPEN OVERNIGHT.



8. EAP/BCLTV DIRECTOR STROTZ DETAILED SOME OF THE
BACKGROUND OF THE VNHRA. SHE EXPLAINED THAT SOME
MEMBERS OF CONGRESS WANTED TO BALANCE THEIR PASSAGE OF
THE BILATERAL TRADE AGREEMENT WITH AN EXPRESSION OF
THEIR CONCERN ABOUT HUMAN RIGHTS IN VIETNAM. SHE ALSO
NOTED THAT THE ACT CONTAINED A PRESIDENTIAL WAIVER TO
SOME OF ITS MAIN PROVISIONS.



9. DANG WAS NOT IMPRESSED. HE SAID VIETNAM'S IS "NOT A
BARBARIC GOVERNMENT," AGAIN POINTING TO THE TALEBAN,
BUT THE VNHRA ESTABLISHES THE UNITED STATES AS
VIETNAM'S JUDGE IN ITS OWN INTERNAL AFFAIRS. HE NOTED
THAT IN THE PAST, POL POT CAUSED "TERRIBLE
DESTRUCTION," BUT THE U.S. PROTESTED KHMER ROUGE
ACTIVITIES BELATEDLY. "BUT WE SHOULD PUT THE PAST
BEHIND US," HE SAID. "I SUGGEST THE VNHRA BE SHUT UP
IN A DRAWER. INSTEAD, WE SHOULD GIVE EACH OTHER ADVICE
AS FRIENDS." HE ADDED THAT VIETNAM WAS WILLING TO
CONTINUE ITS DISCUSSION OF HUMAN RIGHTS AS PART OF THE
NORMAL DIPLOMATIC PROCESS.

COMMENT


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


UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 03 HO CHI 01183 02 OF 02 170848Z



10. AS A FORMER COMMUNIST PARTY LEADER AND CURRENT
ADVISOR TO THE GOVERNMENT, DANG'S OPINIONS - GENUINE
SYMPATHY AND SUPPORT FOR THE U.S. FIGHT AGAINST
TERRORISM CHECKED BY INDIGNATION TOWARDS THE VNHRA -
LIKELY REFLECT THOSE OF MANY OTHER OLDER GENERATION
VIETNAMESE LEADERS.



11. BCLTV DIRECTOR STROTZ DID NOT HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY
TO CLEAR THIS CABLE BEFORE DEPARTURE.

YAMAUCHI

UNCLASSIFIED