Cablegate: "Protesting" for Peace in Iraq

Published: Wed 19 Feb 2003 09:05 AM
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: FBIS SEP20030219000040
1. (U) According to press reports, over 1,300 people
turned up for a rally at Hanoi's downtown Cultural and
Friendship Hall (a gift from the then-Soviet Union) on
February 18 to demonstrate solidarity with the people of
Iraq, express opposition to war and embargoes against Iraq,
and to call for a "political solution" in accordance with
the UN Charter, international law, and national independence
and sovereignty. (Reftel carries text of the resolution
passed at the meeting, which received extensive media
coverage.) Organizers included the Vietnam Fatherland Front
(a Communist Party of Vietnam organization), the Vietnam
Peace Committee, the Vietnam-Iraq Friendship Association,
and the Vietnam Committee for Solidarity and Cooperation
with Asian, Africa, and Latin American People.
Representatives from veterans, religious, workers,
intellectuals, ethnic minorities, and other groups
reportedly attended.
2. (U) Several speakers highlighted Vietnam's own
experiences as victim of war in sparking the "deep sympathy"
of the Vietnamese people toward the Iraqi people and the
desire to avoid further disruption to Iraqi lives. The
Secretary General of the Vietnam Fatherland Front lamented
"strengthened military pressure" by the U.S., UK, and
Australia and against Iraq, and expressed worry about these
"threats to the peace and stability of the world." Another
speaker claimed war against Iraq would "violate
international law and principle." Another speaker noted
that even many people in the U.S. and UK sought peace and
opposed a war in Iraq. Another noted that "U.S. and UK
authorities should not proceed with a war against Iraq . . .
and should avoid causing additional hardships" for the
people of Iraq.
3. (U) Septel will report on a similar meeting organized
in Ho Chi Minh City on February 18, which also received
extensive media coverage.
4. (U) Comment: Events like these are carefully staged by
the CPV's "mass organizations" only after blessing from
senior CPV officials, and do not necessarily reflect genuine
popular opinion. Nonetheless, the negative media coverage
of the U.S. build-up in the Gulf region and our diplomatic
efforts, the prominent coverage given recently to
international anti-war protests, and the media sympathy
expressed repeatedly for the Iraqi people have likely
succeeded in raising public distrust of U.S. intentions and
opposition to military action against one of Vietnam's
"traditional friends." Neither the CPV or GVN would be
willing to permit spontaneous public demonstrations,
however; they would view this as a threat to social
stability and public order. It is not improbable that these
same mass organizations will be permitted, encouraged, or
instructed to stage street protests near U.S. diplomatic
facilities after the outset of any military campaign in
Iraq, although authorities will be careful not to let them
get out of control.
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