Cablegate: "Mass" Peace Rallies in Hanoi

Published: Mon 17 Mar 2003 08:57 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: A. HANOI 409 B. HANOI 396 C. HCMC 157
1. (U) Similar to the pro-peace meeting they organized on
February 18 in Hanoi (ref b), the Vietnam Fatherland Front
(VFF), the Vietnam Peace Committee, the Committee for Asian-
African-Latin American Solidarity and Cooperation, and the
Vietnam-Iraq Friendship Society jointly sponsored another
anti-war protest in Hanoi on March 15. According to
official press accounts, between 2,000-5,000 people from all
walks of life attended, including busloads of schoolchildren
as well as representatives of religious groups, workers,
intellectuals, etc. The protest was notable mostly for its
location: outdoors in the Indira Gandhi Park adjacent to the
downtown Hoan Kiem Lake.
2. (U) Organizers formally referred to this occasion a
"meeting" rather than a rally or demonstration. In true
Communist style, even this outdoor gathering "passed a
resolution" opposing military action by the U.S., the UK,
and other "warlike forces" and calling for "political
measures" in order to avoid "additional hardships" for the
Iraqi people. VFF chief Pham The Duyet, a former CPV
Politburo member, called for the UN and all "responsible
governments" to do everything in their power in accordance
with international law, as well as in the "common interests
of peace-loving peoples," to protect the independence and
sovereignty of all nations, including Iraq.
3. (U) Separately, the Vietnam Women's Union, another mass
organization under the VFF, held a rally also on March 15
similarly to express its hope for peace, its opposition to
war, and its "complete sympathy" with the women and people
of Iraq. The representatives called on all parties to
"prevent war in time" and to find "fair political measures"
for the Iraqi problem consistent with the UN Charter and
international law.
4. (U) Comment: These mass gatherings may lack the
spontaneity or non-official nature of anti-war protests
elsewhere in the world (which have been reported extensively
in the state media here), but do reflect a carefully
cultivated popular suspicion of US motives and a deep
aversion to US-led military action against Iraq. More
official and semi-official protests and rallies can be
expected if military action against Iraq begins (with or
without UN Security Council approval). The GVN and CPV may
even go so far as to orchestrate protests at or near US
diplomatic facilities. Nonetheless, Embassy continues to
believe that GVN public security forces will ensure that any
protests do not threaten our facilities or personnel.
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