US embassy cable - 01HANOI702

MFA RAISES CONCERNS ABOUT HIGHLANDERS IN CAMBODIA AND VIETNAMESE WORKERS IN AMERICAN SAMOA

Identifier: 01HANOI702
Wikileaks: View 01HANOI702 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Hanoi
Created: 2001-03-26 10:41:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Tags: PREL ELAB CB VM
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

261041Z Mar 01

2001HANOI00702 - UNCLASSIFIED
 
 
 
                           UNCLASSIFIED     PTQ0596

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ACTION EAP-00   

INFO  LOG-00   NP-00    ACQ-00   CIAE-00  DODE-00  DOEE-00  WHA-00   
      SRPP-00  DS-00    EB-00    FBIE-00  UTED-00  VC-00    H-01     
      TEDE-00  INR-00   LAB-00   L-00     VCE-00   AC-01    NSAE-00  
      NSCE-00  OMB-01   OPIC-01  PA-00    PM-00    PRS-00   ACE-00   
      P-00     SP-00    SS-00    TEST-00  TRSE-00  T-00     USIE-00  
      PMB-00   DSCC-00  DRL-02   G-00     NFAT-00  SAS-00   SWCI-00  
        /006W
                  ------------------D70371  261056Z /38    
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2362
INFO AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY PRIORITY 
AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH 
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HANOI 000702 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
STATE FOR EAP/BCLTV 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PREL, ELAB, CB, VM 
SUBJECT: MFA RAISES CONCERNS ABOUT HIGHLANDERS IN CAMBODIA AND VIETNAMESE WORKERS IN AMERICAN SAMOA 
 
REF: HANOI 00598 
 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 02        HANOI  00702  01 OF 02  261056Z 
 
1. SUMMARY: AMERICAS DEPARTMENT DIRECTOR ASKED AMBASSADOR TO 
MEET AFTERNOON OF MARCH 26 TO RAISE VIETNAMESE CONCERNS 
ABOUT A GROUP OF HIGHLANDERS WHO HAVE ILLEGALLY CROSSED THE 
BORDER INTO CAMBODIA AND TO REITERATE VIETNAMESE GOVERNMENT 
OBJECTIVES TO REMOVE ALL VIETNAMESE WORKERS FROM AMERICAN 
SAMOA.  AMBASSADOR PROMISED TO RELAY VIETNAMESE CONCERNS TO 
THE DEPARTMENT AND ALSO RAISED U.S. REQUESTS FOR OPPORTUNITY 
TO VISIT CENTRAL HIGHLAND AREAS WHICH HAD BEEN THE SITE OF 
JANUARY/FEBRUARY DISTURBANCES.  ON THE LATTER POINT, 
AMERICAS DIRECTOR SAID HE BELIEVED IT WAS "ONLY A MATTER OF 
TIME" BEFORE THIS WOULD OCCUR. END SUMMARY 
 
2. AMERICAS DEPARTMENT DIRECTOR NGUYEN MANH HUNG ASKED 
AMBASSADOR TO COME TO MFA AFTERNOON OF MARCH 26 AND RAISED 
TWO ISSUES WHICH HE SAID HAVE BECOME MORE COMPLICATED 
RECENTLY BECAUSE OF USG ACTIONS.  HUNG BEGAN BY RAISING THE 
CASE OF A GROUP OF CENTRAL HIGHLANDS RESIDENTS WHO HAD 
ILLEGALLY CROSSED THE BORDER INTO CAMBODIA.  HE SAID THESE 
INDIVIDUALS HAD BEEN DETAINED BY CAMBODIAN AUTHORITIES AND 
THE TWO COUNTRIES WERE NOW DISCUSSING THEIR RETURN TO 
VIETNAM.  ACCORDING TO HUNG, THE VIETNAMESE EFFORTS WERE 
BEING COMPLICATED BY THE INTERVENTION OF "MEMBERS OF THE 
U.S. EMBASSY DEFENSE ATTACHE OFFICE IN PHNOM PENH" WHICH WAS 
URGING THE CAMBODIAN GOVERNMENT NOT TO RETURN THESE 
VIETNAMESE CITIZENS TO VIETNAM.  HUNG STRESSED THAT VIETNAM 
AND CAMBODIA HAVE A WRITTEN AGREEMENT COVERING ILLEGAL 
BORDER CROSSERS AND THAT THIS AGREEMENT SHOULD GOVERN HOW 
THIS CASE WAS HANDLED.  HE ASKED THE AMBASSADOR TO RELAY 
HANOI'S REQUEST THAT U.S. EMBASSY PHNOM PENH OFFICIALS STOP 
THEIR INVOLVEMENT IN THIS BILATERAL MATTER. 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 03        HANOI  00702  01 OF 02  261056Z 
 
3. SEEKING CLARIFICATION OF WHO MIGHT BE INVOLVED, THE 
AMBASSADOR ASKED IF THE BORDER CROSSERS WERE IN SOME WAY 
FLEEING FROM THE VIETNAMESE AUTHORITIES.  HUNG CONCURRED 
THAT THE INDIVIDUALS IN QUESTION HAD COME FROM THE BORDER 
PROVINCES WHERE THE DISTURBANCES HAD OCCURRED AND IMPLIED 
THE INDIVIDUALS WERE IN FACT BEING SOUGHT FOR POSSIBLE 
INVOLVEMENT IN THOSE DISTURBANCES.  AMBASSADOR SAID WE WERE 
UNAWARE OF ANY REPORTS OF ACTIVITIES BY EMBASSY PHNOM PENH 
PERSONNEL AND AGREED TO PASS THIS MESSAGE BACK TO THE 
DEPARTMENT OF STATE TO REFLECT VIETNAM'S CONCERN. 
AMBASSADOR AND DCM IMPLIED THAT THE CROSSING OF THE BORDER 
MIGHT, HOWEVER, INVOLVE MORE CONCERNS THAN JUST THE 
BILATERAL AGREEMENT BETWEEN VIETNAM AND CAMBODIA. 
 
4. HUNG NEXT TURNED TO GVN CONCERNS ABOUT THE STATUS OF 
VIETNAMESE WORKERS IN AMERICAN SAMOA.  HE SAID HE'D JUST 
LEARNED THAT ABOUT 100 OF THESE WORKERS HAD NOW REPORTEDLY 
GONE TO HAWAII -- PURPORTEDLY CONNECTED TO ONGOING 
INVESTIGATIONS OF THE NATURE OF THE CONTRACT ACTIVITIES IN 
THIS CASE.  HUNG SAID THIS TRULY COMPLICATED VIETNAMESE 
GOVERNMENT ACTIVITIES DESIGNED TO BRING ALL OF THESE WORKERS 
BACK HOME.  HE SAID THE GVN HAD COMMITTED TO BRING ALL THESE 
PEOPLE HOME AND HAD AGREED TO PAY THE COSTS WHEN THEY 
DISCOVERED NEITHER THE WORKERS NOR THE COMPANIES INVOLVED 
COULD DO SO. VIETNAMESE AUTHORITIES, HE SAID, UNDERSTAND THE 
NEED FOR INVESTIGATION OF POSSIBLE WRONGDOING BUT HOPED THIS 
COULD BE ACCOMPLISHED IN A QUICK MANNER EITHER IN AMERICAN 
SAMOA OR BY TAKING DEPOSITIONS FROM THE WORKERS.  HE SAID HE 
SAW NO REAL NEED FOR THESE PEOPLE TO HAVE TO GO TO HAWAII 
BECAUSE IT INCREASED "EXPECTATIONS" OF A POSSIBLE LONGER 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 04        HANOI  00702  01 OF 02  261056Z 
STAY IN THE U.S. 
 
5. AMBASSADOR SAID HE REMAINED CONCERNED ABOUT THE LONG 
DELAY THAT HAD OCCURRED BETWEEN THE FIRST REPORTED DISPUTES 
IN AMERICAN SAMOA AND THE VIETNAMESE GOVERNMENT'S DECISION 
TO BRING THE WORKERS BACK TO VIETNAM.  THE SITUATION NOW WAS 
COMPLICATED BECAUSE A LOT OF DIFFERENT LEGAL ISSUES WERE 
BEING RAISED, INCLUDING BY PEOPLE WHO DID NOT NECESSARILY 
FAVOR IMPROVEMENT OF BILATERAL RELATIONS BETWEEN THE U.S. 
AND VIETNAM.  SOME OF THESE PEOPLE WOULD LIKE TO PUBLICIZE 
THE PROBLEMS AND DISCREDIT VIETNAM ON LARGER GROUNDS.  HE 
URGED THE VIETNAMESE AUTHORITIES TO TAKE PROMPT ACTION TO 
CARRY OUT THE RETURN OF THE VIETNAMESE WORKERS.  NOTING HE 
WAS UNAWARE OF THE REPORT OF 100 WORKERS BEING TRANSFERRED 
TO HAWAII, AMBASSADOR SAID THIS WAS LIKELY THE RESULT OF A 
REQUEST FOR A MORE DETAILED INVESTIGATION BY AMERICAN SAMOA 
AUTHORITIES WHICH HAS NOW PUT THE CASE IN THE HANDS OF THE 
FBI AND THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE.  HE SAID HE WAS UNAWARE 
OF ANY SPECIFIC INS RULING ON THE WORKERS STATUS THAT MIGHT 
APPLY TO THEIR GOING TO HAWAII OR TO FURTHER STAYS IN THE 
U.S. 
 
6.   DCM ASKED HUNG IF ONLY VIETNAMESE COMPANY 
REPRESENTATIVES HAD BEEN PRESENT IN AMERICAN SAMOA TO TALK 
WITH THE WORKERS ABOUT RETURNING HOME.  AMBASSADOR NOTED THE 
TWO COMPANIES INVOLVED BELONG TO MINISTRIES AND THUS PERHAPS 
THOUGHT THEY WERE INDEED REPRESENTING THE GOVERNMENT'S 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 02        HANOI  00702  02 OF 02  261056Z 
CONCERNS.  DCM SUGGESTED IT MIGHT BE USEFUL TO HAVE 
GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS WHO DID NOT REPRESENT THE COMPANIES 
RESPONSIBLE FOR SOME OF THE PROBLEMS BE PRESENT TO HELP THE 
WORKERS TO RETURN.  AMBASSADOR REITERATED EARLIER 
RECOMMENDATIONS THAT VIETNAMESE AUTHORITIES THINK ABOUT 
SENDING A BOAT OR PLANE TO PICK UP THE REMAINING WORKERS, 
ASSUMING THE GOVERNMENT COULD PREVAIL UPON THEM THAT IT WAS 
BEST TO RETURN.  HUNG ACKNOWLEDGED THIS WAS VIETNAM'S GOAL 
BUT SAID VIETNAM "COULD NOT FORCE THESE PEOPLE TO RETURN 
AGAINST THEIR WILL." 
 
7.  HUNG CLAIMED "TOO MANY PEOPLE" WERE ADVISING THE 
VIETNAMESE WORKERS THEY HAD A REAL OPPORTUNITY TO STAY 
PERMANENTLY IN THE U.S.  THIS, HE SAID, WAS CONFUSING THE 
WORKERS.  HE URGED THE U.S. TO TAKE A DEFINITIVE STANCE ON 
THIS ISSUE WHICH WOULD MAKE IT CLEAR THERE WAS NO HOPE FOR 
RESIDENCE IN THE U.S.  HUNG ALSO SAID HE HAD RECEIVED THE 
REPORT OF A MEETING BETWEEN BCLTV DIRECTOR SILVER AND 
AMBASSADOR BANG IN WHICH SILVER PURPORTEDLY MENTIONED THAT 
NUMBER IN OR ENROUTE HONOLULU.  HUNG TOOK NOTE OF THE 
SUGGESTION ABOUT "OTHER GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS" BEING INVOLVED 
AND SAID THE VIETNAMESE EMBASSY HAD BEEN CHARGED WITH 
RESPONSIBILITY FOR COORDINATING OFFICIAL ACTIONS AND HE WAS 
SURE AMBASSADOR BANG HAD BEEN IN FREQUENT CONTACT WITH 
AMERICAN SAMOA OFFICIALS. 
 
8.  AMBASSADOR REITERATED USG REQUEST TO VISIT THE CENTRAL 
HIGHLANDS NOW THAT THE SITUATION HAD CALMED AND THE PRESS 
HAD ALREADY VISITED.  HE CALLED ATTENTION TO THE DEPARTMENT 
PRESS SPOKESMAN'S STATEMENT OF MARCH 23 AND EARLIER U.S. 
REQUESTS TO VISIT.  HE SAID THIS WAS THE ONLY TIME HE HAD 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 03        HANOI  00702  02 OF 02  261056Z 
BEEN REFUSED PERMISSION TO TRAVEL AND THAT HE BELIEVED IT 
WAS TIME TO LET DIPLOMATS RETURN TO THE POLICY OF OPEN 
TRAVEL IN COUNTRY.  THE AMBASSADOR SAID IF THE VIETNAMESE 
AUTHORITIES PREFERRED TO HAVE VISITS BY OTHER THAN 
AMBASSADORS HE WAS PREPARED TO HAVE EMBASSY OR CONGEN HCMC 
PERSONNEL TAKE THE FIRST TRIPS.  BUT, HE SAID, THE TIME WAS 
NOW RIPE FOR THIS TO TAKE PLACE.  HUNG SAID HE WOULD AGAIN 
CONVEY THE AMBASSADOR'S REQUEST TO TRAVEL TO THE REGION.  HE 
WAS AWARE OF THE AMBASSADOR'S REQUEST IN FEBRUARY AS WELL AS 
DCM'S REQUEST LAST WEEK.  HE SAID HE FELT IT WAS SIMPLY A 
MATTER OF TIME BEFORE THIS WOULD OCCUR BUT HE DID NOT 
INDICATE HE FELT THAT OUR REQUEST WOULD GET A FAVORABLE 
ANSWER IMMEDIATELY.  (NOTE: EMBASSY AND CONGEN PERSONNEL 
HAVE ALREADY MADE APPLICATION TO TRAVEL TO THE AFFECTED 
REGIONS AND ARE AWAITING FORMAL RESPONSE FROM THE PROVINCIAL 
AUTHORITIES.  END NOTE) 
 
9. COMMENT: VIETNAMESE HAVE LAID THE GROUND WORK TO BLAME 
THE USG IF ANY OF THE HIGHLAND RESIDENTS OF VIETNAM WHO ARE 
CURRENTLY IN CAMBODIA SOMEHOW DO NOT MAKE IT BACK TO 
VIETNAM.  IF THERE IS A QUESTION ABOUT THE STATUS OF THESE 
INDIVIDUALS AND THEIR ELIGIBILITY FOR SOME FORM OF 
CONSIDERATION AS REFUGEES, IT IS ESSENTIAL TO GET UN OR 
OTHER APOLITICAL PERSONNEL INTO THE MIX RIGHT AWAY. 
FOLLOWING THE MEETING, AMBASSADOR DISCOVERED E-MAILED WIRE 
SERVICE REPORTS QUOTING CAMBODIAN PM HUN SEN AS SAYING ALL 
OF THE 24 DETAINED VIETNAMESE WOULD BE RETURNED TO VIETNAM. 
HUN SEN IDENTIFIED THESE INDIVIDUALS AS 'REBELS OR 
CRIMINALS' AND SAID CAMBODIA HAD NO CHOICE BUT TO SEND THEM 
BACK TO THEIR COUNTRY.  HUNG WAS CERTAINLY NOT AWARE OF 
THESE REPORTS WHEN HE CALLED THE AMBASSADOR TO COME IN. BUT 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 04        HANOI  00702  02 OF 02  261056Z 
HE HAS CLEARLY PUT DOWN A MARKER TO SUGGEST ANY CHANGE IN 
HUN SEN'S POLICY WILL RESULT IN THE U.S. BEING IDENTIFIED AS 
THE CULPRIT. 
 
10.  ON AMERICAN SAMOA WORKER ISSUES, WE'D APPRECIATE 
CLARIFICATION WHETHER 100 INDIVIDUALS HAVE ALREADY BEEN 
REMOVED TO HAWAII.  IF NOT, WE URGE THAT USG AGENCIES 
CONDUCT WHATEVER INVESTIGATIONS ARE NECESSARY IN AMERICAN 
SAMOA WITHOUT TAKING THESE INDIVIDUALS TO THE U.S.   FAILURE 
TO SO RAISES THE RISK NONE OF THE OTHER WORKERS WILL AGREE 
TO LEAVE AMERICAN SAMOA.  IT ALSO SETS A PRECEDENT FOR 
POSSIBLE FUTURE EFFORTS TO CREATE "CONDITIONS OF WORK" WHICH 
WILL ENABLE UNSCRUPULOUS INDIVIDUALS TO "TRAFFIC" ILLEGAL 
EMIGRANTS TO THE U.S. UNDER THE GUISE OF HUMANITARIAN 
CONCERNS. END COMMENT 
 
PETERSON 
 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 


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