US embassy cable - 01HOCHIMINHCITY688

UPDATE ON ARREST OF FATHER NGUYEN VAN LY

Identifier: 01HOCHIMINHCITY688
Wikileaks: View 01HOCHIMINHCITY688 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Consulate Ho Chi Minh City
Created: 2001-06-08 07:37:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Tags: PHUM KIRF VM RELFREE HUMANR
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.

080737Z Jun 01

2001HOCHI00688 - UNCLASSIFIED
 
 
 
                           UNCLASSIFIED     PTQ0102

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      EUR-00   UTED-00  H-01     TEDE-00  INR-00   IO-00    L-00     
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                  ------------------F5E4C3  080736Z /38    
FM AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5143
INFO AMEMBASSY HANOI PRIORITY 
AMEMBASSY VATICAN 
AMCONSUL HONG KONG 
USMISSION GENEVA 
ASEAN COLLECTIVE
USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI
JICPAC HONOLULU HI
SECDEF WASHDC
DIA WASHDC
NSC WASHDC
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HO CHI MINH CITY 000688 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
STATE FOR EAP/BCLTV AND EAP/PD/JMARTIN 
STATE ALSO FOR DRL/IRF 
CINCPAC FOR FPA 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 02        HO CHI  00688  01 OF 02  080735Z 
SECDEF FOR ISA/EA/LSTERN 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PHUM, KIRF, VM, RELFREE, HUMANR 
SUBJECT: UPDATE ON ARREST OF FATHER NGUYEN VAN LY 
 
REF: A. HCMC 0684 AND PREVIOUS  B. HCMC 0603 
 
     C. HANOI 1208              D. HCMC 0273 
 
1. (SBU) SUMMARY: A RELIABLE CATHOLIC SOURCE IN HCMC SAID 
THAT FATHER NGUYEN VAN LY BEGAN A HUNGER STRIKE WHEN HE 
WAS ARRESTED ON MAY 17.  ON MAY 29 OR MAY 30, POLICE 
TRANSFERRED HIM FROM JAIL TO A MILITARY HOSPITAL IN HUE. 
FATHER LY REPORTEDLY REFUSED TO ACCEPT INTRAVENOUS 
SOLUTIONS, BUT EVENTUALLY CONSENTED TO TAKING WATER MIXED 
WITH SUGAR AND SALT.  FATHER LY REPORTEDLY THUS FAR IS NOT 
EXPERIENCING ANY SERIOUS HEALTH PROBLEMS AS A RESULT OF 
HIS HUNGER STRIKE.  PHONE LINES TO TWO CATHOLIC PRIESTS IN 
HUE HAVE BEEN CUT OFF SINCE JUNE 5, BUT THE CATHOLIC 
SOURCE BELIEVED THIS WAS AN ATTEMPT TO SUPPRESS 
INFORMATION RELATED TO THE RECENT BUDDHIST PROBLEMS (REF 
A), AND NOT TO CUT OFF INFORMATION ABOUT FATHER LY.  END 
SUMMARY. 
 
2. (U) REFS B AND C DESCRIBE THE CONFLICTING REPORTS OF 
CIRCUMSTANCES SURROUNDING THE ARREST OF FATHER LY.  BETTER 
INFORMATION IS NOW AVAILABLE.  AT 5:00 A.M. ON MAY 17, 
SEVERAL POLICEMEN ENTERED THE CHURCH WHERE FATHER LY WAS 
PREPARING TO SAY MASS.  THEY LED HIM AWAY IN FRONT OF THE 
FEW WORSHIPPERS PRESENT.  LATER IN THE MORNING, AS WORD OF 
THE ARREST SPREAD, WITNESSES SAY THAT 300 TO 500 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 03        HO CHI  00688  01 OF 02  080735Z 
PARISHIONERS BEGAN CONGREGATING AT THE CHURCH AND 
DEMONSTRATING IN SUPPORT OF FATHER LY.  AUTHORITIES SENT 
IN ABOUT 300 SECURITY POLICE TO MAINTAIN ORDER.  A FIGHT 
ENSUED; POLICE USED BATONS AND ELECTRIC PRODS TO MAINTAIN 
ORDER.  WITNESSES SAY THAT POLICE DETAINED APPROXIMATELY 
10 PEOPLE FOR FIGHTING WITH THE SECURITY FORCES, BUT IT IS 
UNKNOWN WHETHER ANY OR ALL OF THEM HAVE BEEN RELEASED. 
 
3. (SBU) ON JUNE 8, POLOFF MET WITH A RELIABLE CATHOLIC 
SOURCE IN HCMC.  THE SOURCE SAID THAT ON MAY 17, POLICE 
TOOK FATHER LY TO PHU THUA PRISON IN HUE WHERE HE 
IMMEDIATELY BEGAN A HUNGER STRIKE.  AFTER 10 DAYS, HE HAD 
BECOME VERY WEAK.  POLICE TRANSFERRED HIM TO MANH CA 
MILITARY HOSPITAL IN HUE ON MAY 29 OR 30.  HE REPORTEDLY 
REFUSED INTRAVENOUS FLUIDS, BUT EVENTUALLY CONSENTED TO 
TAKING WATER MIXED WITH A LITTLE SUGAR AND SALT.  AS OF 
JUNE 5, HE WAS STILL AT THE HOSPITAL.  THE SOURCE SAID HE 
DID NOT BELIEVE FATHER LY WAS YET IN ANY DANGER OF SERIOUS 
HEALTH PROBLEMS AS A CONSEQUENCE OF HIS HUNGER STRIKE. 
 
4. (SBU) THE SOURCE NOTED THAT WHILE FATHER LY WAS UNDER 
HOUSE ARREST, AUTHORITIES TOLD HIGH SCHOOL AND UNIVERSITY 
STUDENT PARISHIONERS THAT IF THEY ATTENDED FATHER LY'S 
MASSES, THEY WOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO ATTEND SCHOOL.  THE 
SOURCE ALSO SAID THAT AS OF JUNE 5, PHONE LINES TO TWO 
SUPPORTERS OF FATHER LY IN HUE, FATHER NGUYEN HUU GIAI AND 
FATHER PHAN VAN LOI, HAVE BEEN CUT.  HE BELIEVED THIS WAS 
AN ATTEMPT TO SUPPRESS INFORMATION ON THE CURRENT BUDDHIST 
PROBLEMS IN THE CITY RATHER THAN AN ATTEMPT TO CUT OFF 
INFORMATION ABOUT FATHER LY. 
 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 04        HO CHI  00688  01 OF 02  080735Z 
5. (SBU) THE SOURCE SAID THAT THERE HAS BEEN A DEGREE OF 
COOPERATION AND SUPPORT BETWEEN CATHOLIC AND BUDDHIST 
"DISSIDENT" CLERGY IN HUE.  HE SHOWED POLOFF A PHOTOGRAPH 
TAKEN FROM THE INTERNET SHOWING FATHER LY, HOA HAO ELDER 
LE QUANG LIEM, AND HUE-BASED UBCV BUDDHIST MONKS THICH 
TRAN CHI AND THICH THIEN THANH WHEN THEY MET TOGETHER IN 
HUE IN FEBRUARY TO ESTABLISH AN INTER-RELIGIOUS BODY 
OUTSIDE OF GOVERNMENT AUTHORITY.  BUT HE ALSO NOTED THAT 
CATHOLIC BELIEVERS WOULD NEVER SUPPORT THE UBCV BUDDHIST 
CAUSE, AND THAT BUDDHIST BELIEVERS WOULD NEVER SUPPORT THE 
CATHOLIC CAUSE, SO THERE WAS LITTLE CHANCE THE TWO GROUPS 
WOULD EVER COME TOGETHER TO PROTEST GOVERNMENT REPRESSION. 
 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
6. (SBU) POST AGREES THAT FOR HISTORICAL AND OTHER 
REASONS, THE BUDDHIST AND CATHOLIC COMMUNITIES ARE 
UNLIKELY TO EVER STAND UNITED.  IN FACT, IT IS UNLIKELY 
THAT EVEN MANY CATHOLICS OUTSIDE OF HUE WOULD PUBLICLY 
SUPPORT FATHER LY'S CAUSE.  CERTAINLY MANY VIETNAMESE 
CATHOLICS PRIVATELY EMPATHIZE WITH FATHER LY'S CRITICAL 
VIEWS ON GVN RELIGIOUS POLICY, BUT THEY ALSO RECOGNIZE 
THAT THERE HAS NONETHELESS BEEN PROGRESS ON FREEDOM OF 
WORHSHIP OVER THE PAST 8-10 YEARS.  POST BELIEVES 
VIETNAMESE CATHOLICS BY AND LARGE PREFER A CAUTIOUS 
DIPLOMATIC APPROACH TO SOLVING THEIR PROBLEMS RATHER THAN 
RISKING ALL IN A MARTYR'S CAUSE. 
 
RAY 
 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 


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