Viewing cable 03HANOI155
Title: DESIGNATION OF COUNTRIES OF PARTICULAR CONCERN

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
03HANOI1552003-01-17 09:17:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Hanoi
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS HANOI 000155 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED 
 
STATE FOR DRL/IRF AND EAP/BCLTV (AMBASSADOR BURGHARDT) 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PHUM PREL SOCI VM RELFREE HUMANR
SUBJECT: DESIGNATION OF COUNTRIES OF PARTICULAR CONCERN 
 
¶A.  02 State 235694           B.  Hanoi 0135 
 
¶1.  (SBU) Embassy understands that a recommendation from 
Ambassador Hanford to the Secretary on designation of 
Countries of Particular Concern under the International 
Religious Freedom Act is imminent and would like to weigh in 
arguing against a possible designation of Vietnam. 
 
¶2.  (SBU)  Ref B reported on Ambassador's most recent 
discussions with senior GVN leaders in the aftermath of 
Ambassador Hanford's November meeting with GVN officials on 
the subject of designation (ref A).  Embassy agrees that the 
GVN has some endemic problems related to religious freedom -- 
notably, what appears to be excessive government 
oversight/control over the administrative structure of 
recognized religious bodies and bans on all activities by non- 
recognized groups; formal government roles not only in the 
selection of religious students but also in the final 
approval and even assignment of religious workers; difficulty 
in the process of registration of house churches and 
discouragement and/or harassment of non-registered "house 
churches"; repeated -- but usually unconfirmed -- allegations 
of beatings and harassment of religious believers who worship 
outside legal religious bodies; and, reports of efforts by 
some officials to convince people to renounce religious 
belief.  The GVN has a serious credibility problem in 
dismissing many allegations, which are often impossible for 
outside observers to verify or dismiss. 
 
¶3.  (SBU)  It does not appear to Embassy that there was any 
significant worsening of the situation of religious freedom 
in 2002, however.  Positive developments in 2002 included the 
appointment by the Vatican (with GVN concurrence) of two new 
Catholic Bishops, and the GVN blessing of the opening by the 
Southern Evangelical Church of Vietnam's theological school, 
now apparently set for February 15 in Ho Chi Minh City.  Less 
dramatic but still welcome developments that stemmed 
especially from the ref b discussion included offers by GVN 
officials to take a number of concrete steps to address USG 
concerns, such as (1) supporting the notion of independent 
foreign observers, (2) investigating the validity of the 
Khanh Hoa document on renunciations, (3) pledging that the 
GVN would address any violations by officials of the policy 
forbidding forced renunciations and sharing information about 
officials already criticized or punished for such violations, 
(4) investigating the four main points Ambassador Hanford 
raised with the GVN in November 2002, (5) promising to work 
with the Ministry of Public Security and "higher authorities" 
to facilitate positive actions regarding persons of concern 
such as Thich Huyen Quang, Thich Quang Do, and Father Nguyen 
Van Ly, and (6) investigating the Mua Bua Sen death.  (GVN 
officials may not in the end deliver on these offers, but 
Embassy believes it worthwhile to try to hold them at their 
word.)  We are also mildly encouraged by the pledge of 
General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Nong Duc 
Manh at the Central Committee Seventh Plenum in January 2003 
to work out better ways to deal with religious issues (along 
with ethnic minority policies) over the long term. 
 
¶4.  (SBU)  Embassy is also convinced that a designation would 
not lead to any increased willingness of the GVN to address 
chronic problems or USG concerns, but would instead likely 
cut off any new avenues of cooperation and influence.  We 
believe that the GVN and the CPV, for their own reasons, 
intend to encourage the longer-term trend toward greater 
expansions of personal liberties -- including freedom of 
religious belief -- but will inevitably resist doing so under 
the threat of foreign sanctions or external pressure. 
Embassy will continue actively to raise US and international 
concerns with or without designation.  Embassy believes that 
we will be able to communicate more effectively and 
successfully - and have greater influence - if Vietnam is not 
included in the list of Countries of Particular Concern.  We 
also believe a first-time designation would ignore some 
positive developments in 2002 and reflect instead rumors and 
allegations that may not be based on fact. 
 
¶5.  (SBU)  Embassy appreciates Ambassador Hanford's personal 
attention to this issue as well as the careful consideration 
of Embassy reporting over the past year by DRL/IRF. 
PORTER