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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
04HOCHIMINHCITY824 2004-06-18 13:08:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Consulate Ho Chi Minh City
Cable title:  

FORMER UBCV MONK TO PURSUE IMMIGRANT VISA AFTER

Tags:   PHUM CVIS PREF SCUL SOCI PREL PGOV KIRF VM RELFREE HUMANR 
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1. (SBU) Mr. Pham Van Tuong, formerly known as Thich Tri Luc while
still a monk with the banned Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam,
has confirmed that he is now scheduled to depart Vietnam on June
22 under UNHCR auspices for resettlement in Sweden. He will
travel with his wife and child. Mr. Tuong said he plans to follow
up with AmEmbassy Stockholm on an existing SR1 immigrant visa
petition after establishing residence in Sweden. Post requests
that AmEmbassy Bangkok and AmEmbassy Stockholm enter Mr. Tuong
into the Lookout System to facilitate further processing at an
appropriate time.



2. (SBU) On June 3, 2004, Mr. Tuong mailed the ConGen (without
explanation) a copy of an I-797 Notice of Approval containing the
following information:
RECEIPT NUMBER: EAC-02-274-53468
RECEIPT DATE: AUGUST 30, 2002
PRIORITY DATE: AUGUST 29, 2002
NOTICE DATE: APRIL 1, 2003
CASE TYPE: I360; PETITION FOR AMERASIAN, WIDOWER OR
SPECIAL IMMIGRANT
PETITIONER: ANANDA BUDDHIST INST
C/O ABOTT THICH VAN DAM
3418 ANNANDALE ROAD
FALLS CHURCH, VA 22042
NOTICE TYPE: APPROVAL NOTICE
SECTION: SPECIAL IMMIGRANT - RELIGIOUS WORKER, Sec.
101(a)(27)(C)(ii)



3. (SBU) According to our Consular Section records, USCIS approved
his petition in April 2003. AmEmbassy Bangkok has confirmed that
the petition is already in their files. The case number is
PHP2003599003. Mr. Tuong understands that he will need to contact
AmEmbassy Stockholm to have the case transferred there for
processing. He also understands that there is no guarantee that
he will qualify for that visa status until he applies.



4. (SBU) In a meeting at the ConGen on June 18, Mr. Tuong said the
GVN had issued him a passport three days earlier, despite his
inability to obtain the required residency documents since his
release from prison on March 26, 2004. He credited UNHCR in Hanoi
for keeping steady pressure on the GVN, and thanked the Embassy
and ConGen for their concern. Mr. Tuong said he had been
questioned frequently by the police since his release, but did not
describe any other harassment. At the suggestion of UNHCR and the
police, he had drafted and signed a "commitment letter" promising
to refrain from any activities that might disrupt or disturb the
GVN once he has left Vietnam. He told ConGenoffs that he planned
to remain involved in the cause of human rights and religious
freedom, regardless of what he wrote in the letter.



5. (SBU) The International Organization for Migration (IOM), which
is making arrangements on behalf of UNHCR, has advised Mr. Tuong
to meet with a representative from the Consulate General of Sweden
at a local police station on June 22. They have also assured him
that an IOM representative will meet him upon his arrival in
Sweden, although he did not seem to have any idea where he would
be living or what he would be doing there. He was uncertain
whether someone from UNHCR or IOM would accompany him and his
family to the airport for their flight. ConGenoffs advised Mr.
Tuong not to pack any documents or items that might be of a
sensitive nature. His itinerary is as follows:
-- 22Jun LH773 SGN-FRA 2030 0520
-- 23Jun LH3000 FRA-ARN 0715 0915
-- 23Jun SK6736 ARN-JKG 1210 1310



6. (SBU) Pham Van Tuong was a long-time UBCV monk who fled to
Cambodia in 2002 and was granted refugee status by UNHCR, before
reportedly being kidnapped by Vietnamese agents and brought back
to HCMC (reftel). He was later held in prison in HCMC for over a
year, and then sentenced to time served plus a few months. The
GVN denied knowing where he was until just before his trial.
After his release, the GVN agreed to cooperate with UNHCR on
processing his refugee claim. ConGen has maintained regular
contact with him ever since. He received refugee admissions
documents from Swedish authorities back in May, and his wife and
child were issued passports at roughly the same time.



7. (SBU) Mr. Tuong said he had been aware that a monk in the U.S.
was "sponsoring" him while he was in Phnom Penh pursuing his
refugee case in 2002, but had never seen the notice of approval
until just recently. He had not discussed the matter with the
GVN, for fear it would cause delays in obtaining his passport and
refugee documents for Sweden. He had, however, been in contact
with the UBCV's Paris-based International Buddhist Information
Bureau via email.
YAMAUCHI