177. Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State1

1193. CINCPAC for POLAD. Following are today’s developments on Buddhist problem.

GVN and Buddhists issued joint communique announcing agreement on five Buddhist demands. Communique signed by members Buddhist delegation and GVN Interministerial Committee and by President Diem and supreme leader of Vietnamese Buddhists, Thich Tuch Khiet. Text read over radio this morning. Text being sent septel.2
Bonze Khiet also announced early this morning that rites for dead bonze postponed for “many reasons, particularly organizational difficulties”. News of postponement circulated by sound trucks near pagodas and by hand bill. However, many people gathered at pagodas and along anticipated route of cortege. Postponement apparently due to disagreement between GVN and Buddhists over size and character of funeral ceremony. Bonzes desired large impressive procession while GVN, for reasons public order among others, desired simple ceremony with limited number participants. Date of funeral not as yet announced.
Catholic Archbishop Paul Nguyen Van Binh of Saigon published pastoral letter reminding parishioners that Church and State must remain separate.
Police quelled sizable riot instigated by approximately 250 students among crowd estimated at 2000 persons gathered at intersection of Phan Than Gian and Le Van Duyet Streets. Riot began at about 0915 hours when students made rush on police cordoning off area around Xa Loi Pagoda. Youths threw thousands of rocks at police and latter employed tear gas and water from fire trucks. No bonzes involved in fighting. Demonstration was brought under control by police at about 1100. GVN communique later blamed incident on “extremist elements” (VC not mentioned) and loud speakers at Xa Loi now carrying Buddhist announcement to same effect and requesting people to remain calm. Communique also states thirty police were injured and hospitalized while no demonstrators were gravely injured or hospitalized. (Embassy officers present throughout this riot and report no [Page 397] doubt whatsoever it provoked by crowd not police.) As of mid-morning all military units in Capital Military District were on full alert on outskirts of city and available for immediate deployment, but not used.3
Between 0600 to 0830 approximately 300 paramilitary and regular members of Women’s Solidarity Movement gathered at their headquarters to hear broadcast over loud speaker of WSM resolution of June 7 and appeal by Madame Nhu for members to abide by spirit this resolution. Madame Nhu did not appear in person.
Today’s edition of Times of Vietnam carries VNP text of statement signed by thirty ranking military officers pledging to “close ranks behind Ngo Dinh Diem to defend constitution and the Republic”.
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, SOC 14-1 S VIET. Limited Official Use; Operational Immediate. Repeated to CINCPAC.
  2. See Document 178.
  3. The Daily Staff Summary, circulated to principal officers in the Department of State on June 17, drew on an Associated Press report of the riot, and described it as “the most violent anti-Government outburst in South Viet-Nam in years.” The Staff Summary noted that order was restored “with tear gas, clubs, and shots fired in the air.” According to the Staff Summary, “one person reportedly was killed and some Buddhists and policemen injured.” (Department of State, Top Secret and Secret Summaries: Lot 65 D 142)