INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: Teaching the Party About Human Rights

Published: Thu 24 Jan 2002 02:26 AM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
240226Z Jan 02
2002HANOI00156 - UNCLASSIFIED
UNCLASSIFIED PTQ4912
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ACTION EAP-00
INFO LOG-00 NP-00 AID-00 AMAD-00 ACQ-00 CIAE-00 DODE-00
SRPP-00 DS-00 EB-00 ED-01 FBIE-00 UTED-00 VC-00
HHS-01 H-01 TEDE-00 INR-00 IO-00 LAB-01 L-00
VCE-00 AC-01 NSAE-00 NSCE-00 OIC-02 OMB-01 OPIC-01
PA-00 PC-01 PM-00 PRS-00 ACE-00 P-00 SP-00
SS-00 STR-00 TEST-00 TRSE-00 T-00 USIE-00 R-00
EPAE-00 IIP-00 PMB-00 DSCC-00 PRM-00 DRL-02 G-00
NFAT-00 SAS-00 SWCI-00 /012W
------------------5C44C1 240242Z /38
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 5296
INFO AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY
ASEAN COLLECTIVE
USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HANOI 000156
SIPDIS
STATE FOR EAP/BCLTV
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PREL SOCI VM DPOL HUMANR
SUBJECT: TEACHING THE PARTY ABOUT HUMAN RIGHTS
1. SUMMARY. A HUMAN RIGHTS CENTER AT THE MAIN PARTY SCHOOL
HAS FOR THE LAST SEVEN YEARS BEEN UNDERTAKING A UNIQUE
EFFORT TO EDUCATE OFFICIALS ABOUT INTERNATIONAL LEGAL
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CONCEPTS RELATED TO HUMAN RIGHTS. THIS LONG-TERM PROCESS
MERITS OUR ATTENTION AND POSSIBLY SUPPORT, DESPITE ONGOING
DIFFERENCES OF VALUES AND APPROACHES TO THIS DELICATE TOPIC.
END SUMMARY.
2. THE HO CHI MINH POLITICAL ACADEMY -- THE CENTRAL PARTY
SCHOOL OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF VIETNAM (CPV) -- HAS SINCE
1994 INCLUDED A RESEARCH CENTER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS. ITS
DIRECTOR, DR. CAO DUC THAI, TOLD POL/C ON JANUARY 23 THAT
ITS MAJOR FUNCTIONS ARE TO:
-- CONDUCT RESEARCH ON THE HISTORY AND THEORY OF HUMAN
RIGHTS, BASED PRIMARILY ON INTERNATIONAL LAW;
-- UNDERTAKE RESEARCH PROJECTS ON HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATIONS
"AROUND THE WORLD," INCLUDING IN THE U.S.;
-- TEACH STUDENTS AT THE ACADEMY -- THE ALREADY ELITE AND
THE UP-AND-COMING OF THE CVP, AT NATIONAL AS WELL AS
PROVINCIAL LEVELS -- ABOUT HUMAN RIGHTS PRINCIPLES AND THEIR
INTERNATIONAL LEGAL FRAMEWORKS;
-- DISSEMINATE HUMAN RIGHTS DOCUMENTS TO TARGETED GROUPS
WITHIN VIETNAM;
-- ADVISE THE GVN AND CPV ON LEGISLATION WITH HUMAN RIGHTS
IMPLICATIONS; AND,
-- STRENGTHEN COOPERATION WITH INTERNATIONAL EXPERTS, NGOS,
AND UNIVERSITIES.
3. THE CENTER CURRENTLY HAS AN IN-HOUSE STAFF OF 16,
INCLUDING FOUR WITH DOCTORATES AND SIX WITH MASTER'S DEGREE,
MOSTLY IN INTERNATIONAL LAW. (ONE RESEARCHER/LECTURER WHO
SAT IN ON THE MEETING HAD AN LL M -- MASTER'S IN
INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS LAW -- FROM A UNIVERSITY IN
SWEDEN.) ANOTHER TWO DOZEN OR SO RESEARCHERS ARE ON
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TEMPORARY LOAN FROM OTHER GVN AGENCIES, INCLUDING THE
MINISTRIES OF JUSTICE, FOREIGN AFFAIRS, AND PUBLIC SECURITY,
AS WELL AS THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY, DR. THAI SAID.
4. ALL STUDENTS AT THE ACADEMY (USUALLY 2-3,000 IN ANY
GIVEN YEAR) IN PRINCIPLE TAKE ONE COURSE ON HUMAN RIGHTS
THEORY IN INTERNATIONAL LAW, ACCORDING TO DR. THAI (WHO
TEACHES THE COURSE), BUT THE CENTER DOES NOT NOW OFFER A
BROADER CURRICULUM. IT PUBLISHES A REGULAR BULLETIN WITH
ARTICLES BY ITS RESEARCHERS; DR. THAI PROMISED HE WOULD ASK
FOR PERMISSION TO INCLUDE EMBASSY ON ITS DISTRIBUTION. HE
EXPRESSED A HOPE EVENTUALLY TO TRANSFORM THE BULLETIN INTO A
MAINLINE JOURNAL, WHILE ADMITTING THE DIFFICULTY IN
SUSTAINING SUCH AN EFFORT ON A COMMERCIAL BASIS. UNESCO
UNDERWRITES ANOTHER OF THE CENTER'S PROGRAMS, PUBLISHING
HUMAN RIGHTS DOCUMENTS AIMED AT CHILDREN, HE NOTED.
5. AS AN EXAMPLE OF HOW THE CENTER HAD ADVISED THE GVN AND
CPV ON LEGISLATION, DR. THAI CITED EVOLVING NATIONAL POLICY
ON PEOPLE WITH AIDS. HE NOTED THE REAL PROBLEM OF SOCIETAL
DISCRIMINATION AGAINST THIS POPULATION AND THE NEED FOR
LEGISLATION TO PROTECT THEIR LEGITIMATE AND EQUAL RIGHTS
BASED ON THE CONSTITUTION.
6. DR. THAI CLAIMED THAT THE "SENIOR PARTY LEADERSHIP" WAS
VERY INTERESTED IN THE ISSUE OF HUMAN RIGHTS, HENCE THE
ESTABLISHMENT OF THIS CENTER. HE NOTED SPECIFICALLY THAT
MANY OTHER GVN OFFICIALS AND CPV CADRES DID NOT YET
UNDERSTAND THE ISSUE OR THE LEGAL BASIS -- IN BOTH
INTERNATIONAL AND NATIONAL TERMS -- FOR THESE RIGHTS. THE
CHALLENGE FOR THE CENTER, HE SAID, WAS TO HELP IMPROVE THE
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LEVEL OF UNDERSTANDING ABOUT HUMAN RIGHTS GENERALLY AND
SPECIFICALLY IN VIETNAM. HE DESCRIBED THE CENTER AS THE
"UNIQUE AGENCY" IN VIETNAM TO UNDERTAKE THIS TASK. HE
CLAIMED THAT INTEREST AND UNDERSTANDING IN HUMAN RIGHTS
WITHIN VIETNAM WAS "INCREASING" AND ATTITUDES OF OFFICIALS
WERE GRADUALLY MORE "POSITIVE" AND "OPEN." HE ADMITTED,
HOWEVER, DIFFERING LEVELS OF INTEREST AMONG OFFICIALS.
7. WHEN ASKED ABOUT FREQUENT COMPLAINTS FROM VIETNAMESE
ABOUT "INTERFERENCE IN INTERNAL AFFAIRS" WHEN OUTSIDE
OBSERVERS COMMENTED ON ALLEGED HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES IN
VIETNAM, DR. THAI CITED A CLEAR DISTINCTION BETWEEN RESEARCH
AND REPORTING ON HUMAN RIGHTS, AND ACTUAL INTERVENTION IN A
LOCAL SITUATION. HE CLAIMED TO BE A FAITHFUL READER OF THE
STATE DEPARTMENT'S HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT ON VIETNAM, AND
PROMISED TO PROVIDE FEEDBACK FROM THIS YEAR'S REPORT. HE
SAID THAT THE CENTER HAD NO/NO CONTACTS WITH INTERNATIONAL
GROUPS SUCH AS AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL OR HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH,
WHILE UNDERTAKING EXCHANGES WITH GROUPS IN AUSTRALIA,
SWEDEN, AND DENMARK.
8. WHILE ADMITTING THAT US AND VIETNAMESE PERCEPTIONS ON
HUMAN RIGHTS WERE OFTEN AT ODDS, HE NONETHELESS CLAIMED THAT
OUR DIFFERENCES ON THIS ISSUE WERE NOT REALLY SO GREAT. THE
PRIMARY DIFFERENCE RELATED TO LIMITATIONS ON INDIVIDUAL
FREEDOMS, WHICH WERE STILL IMPORTANT TO BOTH PEOPLES. FOR
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ACTION EAP-00
INFO LOG-00 NP-00 AID-00 AMAD-00 ACQ-00 CIAE-00 DODE-00
SRPP-00 DS-00 EB-00 ED-01 FBIE-00 UTED-00 VC-00
HHS-01 H-01 TEDE-00 INR-00 IO-00 LAB-01 L-00
VCE-00 AC-01 NSAE-00 NSCE-00 OIC-02 OMB-01 OPIC-01
PA-00 PC-01 PM-00 PRS-00 ACE-00 P-00 SP-00
SS-00 STR-00 TEST-00 TRSE-00 T-00 USIE-00 R-00
EPAE-00 IIP-00 PMB-00 DSCC-00 PRM-00 DRL-02 G-00
NFAT-00 SAS-00 SWCI-00 /012W
------------------5C44C9 240242Z /38
R 240226Z JAN 02
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 5297
INFO AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY
ASEAN COLLECTIVE
USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI
UNCLAS SECTION 02 OF 02 HANOI 000156
SIPDIS
STATE FOR EAP/BCLTV
EXAMPLE, HE SAID THAT IN THE U.S., EVEN IN THE WAKE OF
SEPTEMBER 11, PEOPLE COULD BUY AND WEAR T-SHIRTS WITH OSAMA
BIN LADEN'S IMAGE ON IT, WHILE THIS WOULD NOT BE ALLOWED IN
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VIETNAM. (ACCORDING TO A JANUARY 22 REUTERS REPORT, POLICE
IN THE SOUTHERN COAST CITY OF NHA TRANG SEIZED A BATCH OF
SUCH T-SHIRTS, WITH ONE POLICE INSPECTOR QUOTED AS SAYING
"WE HAVE TO STEP IN TO STOP THE SPREAD OF THIS IMAGE OF
TERROR.") DR. THAI NONETHELESS POINTED WITH PRIDE TO THE
MAJOR STRIDES IN PERSONAL LIBERTIES OVER THE PAST 15 YEARS
IN VIETNAM.
9. POL/C ENCOURAGED DR. THAI TO INTENSIFY INTERACTION
BETWEEN THE EMBASSY AND THE CENTER AND NOTED AMBASSADOR
BURGHARDT'S INTEREST IN VISITING THE CENTER AT A LATER DATE.
DR. THAI ACCEPTED WITH ALACRITY AND SAID THAT HE WOULD VALUE
SUCH ENHANCED CONTACTS.
10. COMMENT: THE VIETNAMESE VIEWPOINT ON HUMAN RIGHTS
REMAINS WIDELY DIVERGENT FROM OUR OWN, AND RESPECT FOR CORE
VALUES SADLY INADEQUATE IN BOTH POLICY AND IMPLEMENTATION.
IT IS NONETHELESS STRIKING THAT THERE ARE PEOPLE WITHIN THE
VERY BOWELS OF THE CPV WHO ARE STEADILY IMPLANTING THE
CONCEPT THAT HUMAN RIGHTS DO NOT STEM FROM AN ALIEN-IMPOSED
VALUE SYSTEM, AND THAT RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS IS DEEPLY
IMBEDDED IN INTERNATIONAL LAW AND IN VIETNAM'S OWN EXPLICIT
COMMITMENTS TO VARIOUS INTERNATIONAL CONVENTIONS AND ITS OWN
CONSTITUTION. THAT THE CPV ITSELF IS FOSTERING THIS
INTERNAL REVOLUTION OF THINKING PERHAPS REVEALS AN INHERENT
RECOGNITION THAT BLUSTER AND DENIAL OVER HUMAN RIGHTS
ALLEGATIONS ARE NOT IN VIETNAM'S LONG-TERM INTEREST, AND
THAT ONLY A CAREFUL LONG-TERM EDUCATION CAMPAIGN CAN
ADEQUATELY CHANGE THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF BOTH OFFICIALS AND
CITIZENS THROUGHOUT THE NATION. WHILE THIS SMACKS OF
"INTERNAL PEACEFUL EVOLUTION," IT IS A PROCESS WE SHOULD
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MONITOR CAREFULLY AND, WHENEVER POSSIBLE, OFFER OUR
ENCOURAGEMENT AND SUPPORT.
BURGHARDT
UNCLASSIFIED
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