Viewing cable 05HANOI956
Title: VIETNAM OFFERS AMNESTY TO SIX RELIGIOUS PRISONERS

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
05HANOI9562005-04-26 09:05:00 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 SECTION 01 OF 02 HANOI 000956 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
STATE FOR EAP/BCLTV AND DRL 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PHUM PGOV KIRF CASC VM HUMANR RELFREE
SUBJECT: VIETNAM OFFERS AMNESTY TO SIX RELIGIOUS PRISONERS 
 
Reftels: A) Hanoi 254, B) HCMC 106 
 
¶1. (SBU) The MFA informed us April 26 that Vietnam will 
offer amnesties to six individuals whom the United States 
had highlighted as cases of concern for religious reasons. 
In addition, Mennonite Le Thi Hong Lien, for whom we had 
requested the GVN provide appropriate medical care, will 
also be given an amnesty.  No high-profile political 
prisoners were included in this special round of amnesties, 
which will mark the 30th anniversary of Vietnam's 
reunification on April 30 (a total of 7820 people are to 
receive amnesties on this occasion).  Presenting the amnesty 
list to the DCM, Assistant Foreign Minister and Americas 
Department Director Nguyen Duc Hung asked that we "tell 
Washington that Vietnam is cooperating in good faith with 
the United States on religion and CPC issues."  The MFA did 
not provide information on whether any American citizens are 
included in the amnesty, which will officially be announced 
on April 27.  (Note:  We will follow up on this matter.  End 
note.) 
 
¶2. (U) Five of the six prisoners are ethnic H'mong 
Protestants from the Northwest Highlands who had been 
imprisoned for reasons related to their faith.  The sixth is 
Catholic Pastor Pham Minh Tri, a.k.a. Pham Ngoc Lien, who 
was imprisoned in 1987.  We have previously received 
conflicting information on Pastor Tri.  In September 2004, 
the Vietnamese Embassy in Washington indicated to the 
Department that he had been released in March 2004.  In 
February 2005, however, amnestied Buddhist monk Thich Thien 
Minh reported that Pastor Tri was still imprisoned and 
suffering from dementia. 
 
¶3. (SBU) Comment:  While not wiping the slate clean, the 
amnesties show an effort by the GVN to be responsive to our 
requests on religious freedom.  The releases significantly 
shorten our list of religious prisoners in Vietnam.  End 
Comment. 
 
¶4. (U) List of amnesty recipients: 
 
-- Father Pham Minh Tri (Pham Ngoc Lien):  Member of the 
Order of the Mother Co-Redemptrix.  Pastor Tri was arrested 
in 1987 and sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment for 
"sabotaging the national unity policy."  His sentence was 
commuted by 24 months and was set to expire in March 2005. 
The GVN said he was released in March 2004, but another 
prisoner alleged that he remained in prison.  Pastor Tri is 
reported to be suffering from dementia. 
 
-- Vang Mi Ly:  Protestant church leader from Hoang Su Phi 
District, Ha Giang Province.  Quang was arrested in December 
2003 and sentenced to 26 months in prison for helping to 
organize "gatherings that caused public disorder" after 
arranging unauthorized religious services. 
 
-- Ly Xin Quang:  Protestant church leader from Hoang Su Phi 
District, Ha Giang Province.  Quang was arrested in December 
2003 and sentenced to 26 months in prison for helping to 
organize "gatherings that caused public disorder" after 
arranging unauthorized religious services. 
 
-- Vang Chin Sang:  Protestant church leader from Hoang Su 
Phi District, Ha Giang Province.  Quang was arrested in 
December 2003 and sentenced to 36 months in prison for 
helping to organize "gatherings that caused public disorder" 
after arranging unauthorized religious services. 
 
--  Ly Chin Seng: Protestant church leader from Hoang Su Phi 
District, Ha Giang Province.  Quang was arrested in December 
2003 and sentenced to 36 months in prison for helping to 
organize "gatherings that caused public disorder" after 
arranging unauthorized religious services. 
 
-- Mua A Chau (Ma A Chau):  Hmong Protestant from Lai Chau 
Province.  Chau was detained on March 5, 2003, after an 
altercation with police officers.  On June 18, 2003, he was 
found guilty of "resisting a person carrying out official 
duties" and sentenced to 36 months in prison.  Chau's family 
alleged that Chau frequently had been harassed and was 
imprisoned as a result of his faith. 
 
-- Le Thi Hong Lien (Ref B):  One of six Mennonites arrested 
in June 2004 and sentenced by a court in Ho Chi Minh City 
for "resisting persons in the performance of their official 
duties," stemming from an altercation with police in March 
¶2004.  She was sentenced to one year in prison.  During her 
incarceration, Lien apparently began to suffer from mental 
difficulties.  The Ambassador and Consul General interceded 
with Vietnamese authorities to ensure that she was provided 
adequate mental health care while in prison.  The Mission 
does not consider Lien a prisoner of conscience, however. 
MARINE