Viewing cable 04HANOI1113

04HANOI11132004-04-19 10:45:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Hanoi
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
E.O. 12958:  N/A 
Ref:  State 86031 
¶1.  (U)  The MFA invited diplomatic missions to an April 19 
briefing by Vice Foreign Minister Le Cong Phung on the 
situation in the Central Highlands (text of statement in 
para 4).  Ambassador and poloff attended and met afterwards 
separately with VFM Phung to deliver reftel demarche and 
discuss our again-delayed reporting trip to the Central 
Highlands (septel). 
¶2.  (U)  VFM Phung explicitly blamed the Montagnard 
Foundation for "inducing" the demonstrations and described 
"violent" acts by demonstrators.  He denied that anyone had 
been beaten to death, as had the MFA spokesman last week. 
He denied repression of Protestants and cited as evidence 
the 25 "Protestant Groups" in the area.  In the Q&A, he said 
that the GVN appreciated the activities of the UNHCR in the 
past, but "vehemently" criticized its role regarding 
Montagnards, and reiterated allegations that the UNHCR had 
"incited" people to flee Vietnam and take refuge in 
¶3.  (U)  Separately, in an interview with Vietnam Net, 
Vietnam Fatherland Front head Pham The Duyet admitted two 
deaths of demonstrators from "throwing stones at each other" 
as well as "a few dozens" of injuries.  VFM Phung also cited 
the two deaths, attributing one to a car accident and the 
other to injuries from stones.  He mentioned possibly "60 to 
70" injured, but said most were minor injuries requiring 
little or no medical care. 
¶4.  (U)  Text of VFM Phung's statement 
Information on the recent situation in the Central Highland 
Over the last several days, a number of foreign 
organizations like the Montagnard Foundation, the 
Transnational Radical Party have noisily exaggerated the so- 
called "demonstrations of the ethnic minority people in the 
Central Highland against religious repression and land 
confiscation".  They spread rumors that "the Vietnamese 
government suppressed demonstrators", and even blatantly 
fabricated a story of 400 people being cut throat and bodies 
thrown into rivers, or more specifically said "demonstrators 
were beaten to death in Phan Chu Trinh street and at the 
outskirts of Buon Ma Thuot, etc".  We vehemently reject this 
distortion.  It must be said that there is nothing new about 
the sinister schemes by some hostile forces against Viet Nam 
to spread provocative, fabricated, exaggerated, and 
distorted rumours aimed at dividing the community of 
Vietnamese nationalities, tarnishing Viet Nam's reputation 
and image, hindering the development of friendship and 
cooperation between Viet Nam and other countries and 
international organizations. 
The truth is that on the 10th and 11th April 2004, some 
extremist elements in localities in Dak Lak and Gia Lai 
provinces, with instigation and instructions from outside, 
especially from the Montagnard Foundation led by Ksor Kok, 
induced, deceived and forced the local people to carry out 
demonstrations.  On 9th April 2004, the so-called 
"Montagnard Foundation" in the United States released an 
announcement that there would be demonstrations in the 
Central Highland on 10th April with the participation of 
about 150,000 people.  The Montagnard Foundation even dared 
to admit its involvement with the demonstrations in the 
Central Highland.  The organizers of the demonstration 
spread rumors that United Nations airplanes were available 
to migrate local people abroad and, in various areas, they 
used money to urge the people to demonstrate and threatened 
to blacklist and punish those who would not follow them. 
The extremists committed acts that caused public disorder. 
They used dangerous weapons to beat on-duty officers, 
causing serious injuries.  They destroyed public works and 
property in some communes.  More seriously they even dared 
to attack some commune headquarters, capture local officials 
and hang out banners demanding to establish a "Dega state". 
It was clear that these were acts aimed at causing public 
disorder, dividing people of the Central Highlands, damaging 
the national great unity and undermining Vietnam's 
territorial integrity.  In the face of such violent acts of 
the extremists, law protection forces and people had to take 
defensive acts, which inevitably led to clashes.  A number 
of people were injured and hospitalized. 
It is clear that these extremists were incited and 
instigated from outside.  Such acts seriously violated the 
laws and thus are intolerable in any country. 
The local authorities have taken measures to stabilize the 
situation.  People who had been deceived to take part in the 
demonstrations were explained by the local authorities about 
the issue and provided with means of transportation to go 
back home.  The local governments just hold in custody the 
instigators, leaders and those who committed acts against 
public officers who were on duty.  At present, the life in 
these areas is normal.  Foreign tourists continue to visit 
the Central Highlands. 
Besides, land dispute has also been mentioned by some 
countries.  Indeed, there have happened here and there land 
disputes as a result of the economic restructuring in the 
region.  Recently, the National Assembly has amended the 
Land Law, providing the local governments a legal basis to 
address the issue and provide adequate land for cultivation 
and housing of the people.  This task is given special 
attention in the Central Highlands provinces. 
I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate the 
consistent policy of the State of Vietnam to strengthen the 
great national unity and pay attention to improving the 
life, both physically and spiritually, for people from all 
social strata.  The Prime Minister has approved and 
instructed the realization of the Socio-economic Development 
Programme for extremely difficult communes, ethnic 
minorities in mountainous, border and remote areas with a 
view to improving the physical and spiritual life of ethnic 
minority people in remote areas, helping these areas escape 
poverty, backwardness and integrate into the common cause of 
national development.  The Programme has recorded fruitful 
outcomes over the past years.  Basic infrastructure in 
mountainous areas has been built and improved significantly, 
which helps promote the development of a multi-sector 
economy.  The economic structure in various areas has been 
transformed in the direction of commodity production, which 
gradually lays premises for socio-economic development along 
the line of industrialization and modernization. 
Especially, remarkable progress has been seen in the social 
and economic development and the improvement of the people's 
physical and spiritual conditions of Central Highland 
provinces.  The rights of the people from all ethnicities in 
the Central Highlands area guaranteed.  Socio-economic 
programmes to meet the need for production and housing land 
of ethnic minority people are actively implemented. 
Vietnam's law ensures the right of freedom of religion and 
belief and non-religion and belief of all citizens, which is 
clearly inscribed in the Constitution and respected in the 
reality.  There is absolutely no question of the so-called 
"repression of Protestants".  On the contrary, Protestants 
in the Central highland enjoy favourable conditions for 
religious practices.  There are about 25 grass-root 
Protestant Groups in the Central Highland.  Recently, on 
13th April 2004, Pay Ro Ngol A Ma Ron Protestant Group was 
inaugurated in A Ma Ron commune, Ia Pa district, Gia Lai 
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