US embassy cable - 01HOCHIMINHCITY734

UPDATE ON CONTINUING BUDDHIST TENSIONS REF: A. HCMC 0699 B. HCMC 0684 AND PREVIOUS

Identifier: 01HOCHIMINHCITY734
Wikileaks: View 01HOCHIMINHCITY734 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Consulate Ho Chi Minh City
Created: 2001-06-15 09:03:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Tags: PHUM KIRF VM HUMANR RELFREE
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.

150903Z Jun 01

2001HOCHI00734 - UNCLASSIFIED
 
 
 
                           UNCLASSIFIED     PTQ8889

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ACTION EAP-00   

INFO  LOG-00   AID-00   AMAD-00  CIAE-00  SRPP-00  EB-00    UTED-00  
      H-01     TEDE-00  INR-00   IO-00    L-00     NSAE-00  OIC-02   
      OPIC-01  PRS-00   P-00     SP-00    SS-00    STR-00   TEST-00  
      TRSE-00  USIE-00  PRM-01   DRL-02   G-00     NFAT-00  SAS-00   
        /007W
                  ------------------F91F2F  150909Z /38    
FM AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5183
INFO AMEMBASSY HANOI PRIORITY 
AMEMBASSY TOKYO 
AMEMBASSY BEIJING 
AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 
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 000734 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/BCLTV AND EAP/PD/JMARTIN 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
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DEPARTMENT ALSO FOR DRL/IRF 
CINCPAC FOR FPA 
SECDEF FOR ISA/EA/LSTERN 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PHUM, KIRF, VM, HUMANR, RELFREE 
SUBJECT: UPDATE ON CONTINUING BUDDHIST TENSIONS 
REF: A. HCMC 0699  B. HCMC 0684 AND PREVIOUS 
 
1. (SBU) SUMMARY: ON JUNE 7, ABOUT 100 MONKS, NUNS AND 
SUPPORTERS OF THE OUTLAWED UNIFIED BUDDHIST CHURCH OF 
VIETNAM (UBCV) ATTEMPTED TO TRAVEL TO QUANG NGAI 
PROVINCE TO MEET WITH UBCV SUPREME PATRIARCH THICH 
HUYEN QUANG AND TAKE HIM TO HCMC.  POLICE IN HUE HAD 
WARNED THEM NOT TO GO, AND MOST OF THEM WERE TURNED 
BACK AT POLICE ROADBLOCKS ALONG THE WAY.  ABOUT 40 TO 
50 MONKS AND NUNS, IN AT LEAST TWO SEPARATE GROUPS, 
MADE IT TO QUANG NGAI PROVINCE BUT WERE PREVENTED FROM 
MEETING WITH THE PATRIARCH.  THEY STAYED IN QUANG NGAI 
FOR SEVERAL DAYS, BUT MOST, IF NOT ALL, OF THEM HAVE 
NOW RETURNED TO HUE.  IN HUE, POLICE REPORTEDLY 
CONTINUE TO SUMMON THE ORGANIZERS IN FOR INTERROGATION 
SESSIONS, BUT HAVE NOT ARRESTED ANYONE.  AUTHORITIES IN 
QUANG NGAI PROVINCE REPORTEDLY ARE PRESSURING PATRIARCH 
THICH HUYEN QUANG TO MAKE A FORMAL REQUEST TO MOVE TO 
NEIGHBORING BINH DINH PROVINCE.  IN HCMC, THICH QUANG 
DO, WHO HAD PLANNED THE JUNE 7 EVENT, REMAINS UNDER 
HOUSE ARREST AND IS NOT ALLOWED VISITORS.  ALTHOUGH IN 
PHONE CONVERSATIONS WITH CONGEN, UBCV MONKS VOICE 
FRUSTRATION AND CONTINUE TO EXPRESS CONCERN FOR THICH 
HUYEN QUANG'S HEALTH, THEY HAVE NO PLANS FOR ANY 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 03        HO CHI  00734  01 OF 02  150909Z 
FURTHER PROVOCATIVE ACTIONS.  END SUMMARY. 
 
INTERROGATIONS BUT NO ARRESTS IN HUE 
------------------------------------ 
 
2. (SBU) REF A REPORTED THAT POLICE IN QUANG NGAI 
PROVINCE HAD DETAINED ABOUT 20 UBCV MONKS, NUNS AND 
SUPPORTERS AFTER STOPPING THEIR TWO VANS AT A ROADBLOCK 
ABOUT TWO KILOMETERS FROM PATRIARCH THICH HUYEN QUANG'S 
PAGODA.  IN PHONE CONVERSATIONS WITH SEVERAL BUDDHIST 
SOURCES IN HUE ON JUNE 14, POLOFF LEARNED TODAY THERE 
WERE 18 BUDDHIST MONKS AND NUNS IN THIS GROUP, AND THAT 
THEY WERE DETAINED ONLY 2-3 HOURS.  REF A ALSO REPORTED 
THAT ANOTHER GROUP OF ABOUT 25 UBCV BUDDHISTS WHOM 
POLICE HAD PREVENTED FROM ENTERING THE PATRIARCH'S 
PAGODA REMAINED IN QUANG NGAI AND WERE CONSIDERING 
STAGING PUBLIC DEMONSTRATIONS.  INFORMATION OBTAINED ON 
JUNE 14 INDICATES THAT MOST, IF NOT ALL, OF THE 
BUDDHISTS WHO HAD TRAVELED FROM HUE TO QUANG NGAI HAVE 
RETURNED TO HUE AND ARE NOT PLANNING ANY FURTHER 
PROVOCATIVE ACTIONS. 
 
3. (SBU) THICH THAI HOA AND THICH THIEN HANH EACH LED A 
GROUP OF BUDDHISTS FROM HUE TO QUANG NGAI.  (NOTE: 
THICH THAI HOA AT THE TU HIEU PAGODA IN HUE WAS ONE OF 
THE MOST CAREFULLY WATCHED UBCV MONKS.  THAT HE WAS 
ABLE TO ACTUALLY GET OUT AND LEAD A GROUP ALL THE WAY 
TO QUANG NGAI WAS QUITE A FEAT.  END NOTE.)  THICH CHI 
THANH AND THICH CHAN TRI (REF A MISSPELLED HIS NAME AS 
THICH TRAN CHI) ALSO ORGANIZED GROUPS, BUT DID NOT 
ACTUALLY TRAVEL TO QUANG NGAI THEMSELVES.  POLICE IN 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 04        HO CHI  00734  01 OF 02  150909Z 
HUE REPEATEDLY HAVE CALLED IN ALL FOUR OF THESE MONKS 
FOR INTERROGATION SESSIONS OVER THE PAST FEW DAYS, BUT 
HAVE NOT PLACED ANY OF THEM UNDER ARREST. 
 
4. (SBU) POLOFF CALLED THE TU HIEU PAGODA JUNE 14, AND 
ASKED TO SPEAK WITH THICH THAI HOA.  THE PERSON WHO 
ANSWERED THE PHONE SAID THAT THAI HOA WAS AT THE POLICE 
STATION, AND THAT HE HAS BEEN HELD THERE FOR 
QUESTIONING ALL DAY FOR THE PAST TWO DAYS, BUT ALLOWED 
TO RETURN TO THE PAGODA AT NIGHT. 
 
5. (SBU) POLOFF WAS ABLE TO REACH THICH CHAN TRI AT THE 
THIEN LAM PAGODA.  REF A REPORTED THAT POLICE HAD 
CALLED HIM IN AT 1:00 A.M. ON JUNE 7, JUST A FEW HOURS 
BEFORE 60 MONKS, NUNS AND SUPPORTERS ASSEMBLED AT HIS 
PAGODA TO TRAVEL TO QUANG NGAI.  ON THE TELEPHONE, CHAN 
TRI SEEMED NERVOUS AND HESITATED SEVERAL TIMES DURING 
THE CONVERSATION.  HE SAID THAT "SOMEONE" HAD COME TO 
HIS PAGODA AT 1:00 A.M. ON JUNE 7 TO TELL HIM HIS 
MOTHER WAS SICK, HE HAD GONE TO HER HOME - NOT TO THE 
POLICE STATION - AND THAT WAS WHY HE DID NOT JOIN THE 
DELEGATION TO QUANG NGAI.  HE ALSO SAID THE ATMOSPHERE 
IN HUE WAS MUCH CALMER TODAY THAN IT HAD BEEN A FEW 
DAYS BEFORE. 
 
6. (SBU) POLOFF ALSO REACHED THICH CHI THANG AT THE 
PHUOC THANH PAGODA.  HE BEGAN TO RELATE THAT 
AUTHORITIES AT THE PROVINCIAL, DISTRICT, AND HAMLET 
LEVEL WERE CONSTANTLY SUMMONING HIM IN FOR QUESTIONING 
WHEN LOUD STATIC CAME ON THE LINE.  CHI THANG SAID THE 
STATIC WAS DUE TO POLICE INTERFERENCE ON THE PHONE 
LINE.  WE WERE UNABLE TO CARRY ON THE CONVERSATION. 
(NOTE: REF B REPORTED THAT THE PHONE LINES AT ALL THREE 
OF THE ABOVE PAGODAS HAD BEEN CUT.  THAT THE LINES ARE 
NOW WORKING AGAIN IS AN IMPROVEMENT, BUT IT IS OBVIOUS 
THAT POLICE ARE STILL LISTENING.  END NOTE.) 
 
7. (U) ALSO ON JUNE 14, POLOFF SPOKE WITH PENELOPE 
FAULKNER OF THE UBCV INFORMATION BUREAU IN PARIS.  SHE 
SAID THAT IN ADDITION TO THE GROUPS OF BUDDHISTS LISTED 
ABOVE AND IN REFTELS WHO HAD ATTEMPTED TO TRAVEL FROM 
HUE TO QUANG NGAI, ANOTHER GROUP OF 17 UBCV MONKS 
ATTEMPTED TO DEPART HUE ON JUNE 7 BY MOTORCYCLE. 
BEFORE THEY LEFT THE CITY LIMITS, HOWEVER, A GROUP OF 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 03        HO CHI  00734  02 OF 02  150909Z 
ABOUT 20 YOUNG MEN, ALSO ON MOTORCYCLE, ACCOSTED THEM, 
THREATENED THEM, AND EVENTUALLY CHASED THEM BACK TO 
THEIR PAGODAS. 
 
QUANG NGAI READY TO MOVE PATRIARCH, BUT NOT TO HCMC 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 
 
8. (U) FAULKNER ALSO TOLD POLOFF THAT FOR THE PAST TWO 
WEEKS, AUTHORITIES IN QUANG NGAI HAVE BEEN PRESSURING 
THICH HUYEN QUANG TO SIGN A REQUEST TO MOVE TO A 
MONASTERY IN NEIGHBORING BINH DINH PROVINCE.  (THE 
PATRIARCH HAD BEEN THE HEAD OF THE MONASTERY AT SOME 
TIME IN THE PAST.)  BINH DINH IS JUST SOUTH OF QUANG 
NGAI, STILL SEVERAL HUNDRED MILES FROM HCMC.  IT IS 
HARDLY LESS ISOLATED THAN QUANG NGAI.  THE PATRIARCH 
REPORTEDLY REFUSED TO SIGN THE REQUEST. 
 
9. (SBU) IN HCMC, THICH QUANG DO REMAINS UNDER HOUSE 
ARREST.  HIS PHONES ARE CUT OFF, AND POLICE HAVE 
ALLOWED HIM NO VISITORS SINCE THE HOUSE ARREST ORDER 
WAS PUT INTO EFFECT ON JUNE 1.  ONE UBCV MONK ATTEMPTED 
TO VISIT QUANG DO ON JUNE 10.  HE ENTERED THE PAGODA, 
BUT THE PLAINCLOTHES POLICE WHO GUARD THE STAIRS TO THE 
RESIDENCE POLITELY TOLD HIM HE COULD NOT GO UPSTAIRS. 
 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
10. (SBU) POLICE SUCCESSFULLY PREVENTED THE UBCV 
BUDDHISTS FROM TAKING PATRIARCH THICH HUYEN QUANG TO 
HCMC WITHOUT PERMISSION.  UBCV MONKS IN HUE CONTINUE TO 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 04        HO CHI  00734  02 OF 02  150909Z 
SOUND FRUSTRATED AND RESENTFUL, BUT THEY DO NOT PLAN 
ANY FURTHER PROVOCATIVE ACTIONS AT THIS TIME.  ALTHOUGH 
IT APPEARS SECURITY FORCES HAVE THE SITUATION WELL 
UNDER CONTROL, CONCERNS FOR THE HEALTH OF THE PATRIARCH 
IS AN ISSUE THAT WON'T JUST GO AWAY.  THE GVN COULD 
SAVE ITSELF A LOT OF TROUBLE BY SIMPLY MOVING THE 83- 
YEAR-OLD MONK TO HCMC, WHERE GOOD MEDICAL TREATMENT IS 
AVAILABLE, BEFORE HIS HEALTH STARTS TO FAIL. 
 
RAY 
 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 


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