38thAnniversary of Black April

Hoi B. Tran

In his book titled “No MoreViet ” published in 1985 President Richard M. Nixoncommented:

“No eventin American history is more misunderstood than the Vietnam War. It wasmisreported then, and it is misremembered now. Rarely have so many people beenso wrong about so much. Never have the consequences of their misunderstandingbeen so tragic.”

I know there are people who want to forget, to put a closure on thiscontroversial subject, the Viet Nam WarI am also aware there’ve beenthousands of books, studies and documentaries written about the Viet Nam WarBut one thing I amsure you’ll agree with me that it is rather rare for the general public to havean opportunity to hear about this very same subject from a NationalistVietnamese veteranToday,on the 38th Commemoration of Black April, this old NationalistVietnamese veteran is sharing with you his first hand account of what happenedin the long Viet Nam War from 1945 to 1975.

At this stage of my life, I am 78, I have no political agenda to pursueIn fact, I may becleared for take off anytime for my last flight West and, therefore, my onlyambition is to voice the truth in an attempt to debunk as much as possible allthe lies, all the distortions and biased reporting about the Viet Nam War.

Below are some questions requiring honest answers:

1- Was Ho Chi a nationalist patriot who ousted the French &restored

independence for VN as portrayed by some Western writers andhistorians?

2- Who startedthe war in Viet Nam and was it immoral that the should not

gotten involved?

3- Were the USArmed Forces defeated by the N. Vietnamese Communists?

What were the causes that led to the demise of the RepublicSouth VN

5- Were peoplein South VN happy with the North Vietnameseliberators after

their so-calledliberation of the South in April 1975?

Here is the first one:

I was born in Ha, North VN in the mid-thirties, 1935 to be exactJust three months prior to my 10thbirthday the Japanese forces in Indochina staged a surprise attack and overthrew the French ColonistsThe following daythe Japanese envoy granted Viet Nam her independence within Japan’s Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity SphereBy and large, mostVietnamese were excited and happy although it was not exactly the kind ofindependence they had hoped for but at least the French colonists were oustedFor in the past,many patriotic groups had struggled to expel the French but all failedWhile theVietnamese were enjoying their superficial independence, the dropped two atomic bombs on HiroshimaNagasaki in early August 1945 forcing Japan to surrender unconditionally on Aug 14, 1945The capitulation of Japan created an anarchy state in VN. Hopromptly exploited the situation & used his armed propaganda brigadesembedded in Ha to seize powerOn August 28, 1945, Ho formally declared the country to bethe Democratic Republic of VN, an independent nation & proclaimed himselfPresident & Minister of Foreign Affairs concurrentlyThe following week, Ho had his cadresconvened a meeting at the Square to introduce his government & citethe Declaration of Independence he plagiarized from the I was a 10 year-old Vanguard Youth Troop and I was present with mygroup to sing patriotic songs in this historic event.

Shortly afterbecoming President of the Democratic Republic of VN, Ho showed his true coloras a loyal servant of the communists and a traitor. He followed communist’sdoctrine overzealouslyBetween 1953 to 1956, he launched the inhumane Land ReformCampaign that viciously slaughtered at least from 60,000 to 150,000 landownersthat they labeled as wicked landlords and about 50,000 to 100,000 wereimprisonedWithhis death squads, Ho began to viciously liquidate his compatriot politicalopponents if these people were pure nationalists or non-communistOn March 6, 1946, HCMcompromised and signed an agreement to allow French forces to return to VN forfive years and, in return, France would recognize his government. wily move was very unpopular with nationalistVietnamese patriots at the time and Ho was viewed as a traitor to the cause ofthe August revolution.

But thehoneymoon between Ho Chi and the French did notlast longInNov 1946, a French ship bombarded Phong, a coastal city in North VNThis incident and many subsequent clashes between French and forces led to the battle in the Northwest of Ha in1953 garrison was set up by French Gen. Navarre in an attempt to lure forces into a set piece battle so they could destroythem with air power and artilleryBut Navarre did not know that Ho Chi received substantial logistical supplies from communistChina including military advisors andtechniciansItwas later revealed that forces had moreartillery than the French and they even had the deadly rocket launchers, theStalin Organs from the Soviet UnionObviously, they outgunned the French andnumerically outnumbered the French defenders by five to oneOn May 7, 1954 fell into the hands of the communist attackersThe fall of forced the French to sign an agreement in GenevaJuly 21, 1954 that divided VN into two countries atthe 17th parallelNorth VN remainedunder Ho Chi as the Democratic Republic of VietNam and south of the 17th parallel was a separate non-communistcountry under the government of Emperor Dai.

If Ho Chi had been a true nationalist patriot, he should havecontented with the independence that Viet Nam inherited bloodlessly at the departureof the JapaneseHemust have known that he was very lucky to be at the right place at the righttime to, all of a sudden, have become president of the Democratic Republic ofVNUnder thecircumstances, Ho should have concentrated all his efforts and committed allavailable resources into rebuilding the war-ravaged country and reviving thedying economy in North VNHe should have fulfilled the attractiveslogan he always used in the past to mobilize millions Vietnamese patriots whowere willing to fight & die for: Independence-Freedom-Happiness.

In principle,the Geneva Accords of July 1954 had afforded VN her independence with twopolitical regimes similar to GermanyKoreaWhat most Vietnamese had been longing for had been achieved, theyno longer had to live under French colonial ruleIf Ho had not been too greedy wantingto gobble up the RVN by force, both countries, the DRV and the RVN would havebeen peaceful and prosperousThere would have been… no warBut it was unfortunate for theVietnamese people on both sides to have such an evil man like Ho Chi And with military supports from communist China and the Soviet Union, Ho determined to attack and invade South VNTo stop communist expansion in Indochina at the time, the and the free world jumped in to help South Viet Nam did not invade South VN as propagated by the North Vietnamesecommunist propaganda machine. On the contrary, it was HCM & the communiststhat caused the long 30-year war in Viet Nam from 1945 to 1975.

Now, secondquestion:

Was the war inVN immoral and the should not have gotten involved?

Regardless ofwhat people think and say, my personal opinion has always been; the U.Sinvolvement in the war in VN was justand nobleIt was just because we, the US of A would not get involved in any conflictoverseas if we had no direct or indirect national interest in it, economically,politically or militarily. History shows the was very hesitant and careful prior togetting involved in WW1 and WW2. When the Soviet Union and Chinese communists directlysupported the North Koreans to invade the RepublicSouth KoreaJune 25, 1950 did not intervene until the UnitedNations condemned the invasion as a violation of the agreement between the and the Soviet Union to divide Korea at the 38th parallel duringWW2. After the end of the Korean War in 1953, the two giant communistcountries, the Soviet Union and thePeople’s Republic of China, were so eager to export communism toother nations especially in third world nations in SEA to inciteanti-capitalism and stir up revolt under a very nice and attractive slogan “liberationwar”And thePeople’s Republic of China switched their support to HCM in North Viet Nam to fight the French at

In Nov 1956,when attending a party at the Polish Embassy in Moscow, Premier Nikita Khrushchev of the Soviet Union shouted to the West “We will bury youIn Latin AmericaJan 1, 1959 Fidel Castro turned into a first communist country in the Western Hemisphere. While in Viet Nam, the North Vietnamese communists underHo Chi began to escalate their terrorist activitiesand war effort in South Viet Nam with support from the Soviet Union and the Chinese communists. On October 14, 1962 U.Sreconnaissance plane discovered nuclear missile sites being built on the island by the Soviet Union. With a series of provocative acts andthreatening movements by the Communists at the time, it’d be very difficult forthe U.S to ignore aggressive communist expansion. So it was Just and Noble for the (and the Free World) to come and help South Viet Nam, a small nation being invaded by thecommunist bloc.

Now the 3rdquestion:

Were the USArmed Forces defeated by the N. Vietnamese Communists?

My answer is aresounding NOThefollowing facts are very difficult to deny.

1- Anyone with aminimum understanding of the Viet Nam war would agree that through politicalnegotiation, our negotiators along with delegates from the RepublicSouth Viet NamNorth Viet and the Provisional RevolutionGovernment signed a Peace Accords in ParisFranceJanuary 27, 1973 to end the conflict politically.

2- In compliancewith the Peace Accords, the last combat unit left South Viet NamMar 29, 1973, two months after the Accords wassigned.

3- After U.Scombat troops had completely left the theater, the Armed Forces of the Republicof (South) Viet Nam continued to fight the well-supplied,better-equipped North Vietnamese invaders for a little over two years followingthe Peace AccordsButeverything has a limit, because of the lack of logistical supports, theRepublic of (South) Viet Nam collapse on April 30, 1975How could the bold-faced communists of North Viet Nam brag about defeating the U.S militarilywhen there was not a single U.S soldier on the battlefield in Viet Nam

The 4thquestion:

What were thecauses that led to the demise of the Republic of (South) Viet Nam

With the benefitof hindsight substantiated by a myriad of declassified secret documents,everyone interested in this subject could find at least four major reasons thatpaved the way for the catastrophe of April 1975 in the Republic of (South) VN.

1- PresidentJohnson’s limited war policy and his desultory strategy coupled with hismicromanagement of the war through the Rules of Engagement (ROE) in Viet Nam detrimentally affected the outcome ofthe war and the destiny of South Viet NamIn March 1967, South Viet Nam Premier Nguyen had a second meeting with U.S. President Lyndon B.Johnson and Defense Secretary Robert McNamara in In this meeting Premier asked Pres. Johnson to equip theVietnamese Armed Forces properly, provide adequate logistical support & hewould lead an invasion of North Viet Nam with 100% South Vietnamese forces. Thiswould compel North Viet Nam leaders to retreat their forces from theSouth to defend their territory. But Premier proposal was flatly denied.

2- Freedom anddemocracy was also a double-edged sword that really hurt our cause. Forexample; the tyrannical regime of North Viet Nam aligned well with Red China and the Soviet Union. They did not have a horde of hostile,biased war reporters to sully their military, they had no freedom of assemblyfor their citizens to gather in large number to organize antiwar or to protestagainst their governmentThey did not have celebrity like Jane Fonda or former governmentofficial like Ramsey Clark to smear them while praising the enemySuperficially, theyhad no antiwar movements in Hanoi, not in PekingMoscow. Under the eyes of the world, they appeared to have a justcause and a united rear base supporting them.

3- Red China andthe Soviet Union, two major allies who generouslyprovided military & economic support to Ho Chi in North Viet Nam, dealt with Ho very cleverly anddiplomatically in public while officials treated their South Vietnameseally like their pawn. It was no secret that U.S officials from the U.S Embassyin SaigonWashington, more than often treated theirVietnamese counterparts with an imperious and arrogant attitude. The undiplomaticbehavior of the U.S officials unknowingly provided Ho Chi Minh’spropaganda machine convincing reason to call the Republic of (South) Viet Nam a puppet government of the AmericanImperialist and that they must fight the American to liberate the South andsave our fatherland.

4- Because ofincreasing political turmoil and antiwar movements in America, the U.S forced the Republic of (South) Viet Nam to sign a flawed & deadly PeaceAccords on January 27, 1973 to end the war in Viet Nam. Less than 5 months after the signing ofthis flawed Accords, U.S Congress passed the Case-Church Amendment forbiddingany further U.S military involvement in Southeast Asia. This was a green lightfor the communists to proceed with their invasion plan. In September 1974, U.SCongress cut military aid to the Republic of (South) Viet Nam to the bone. The South Vietnamese ArmedForces were fighting with fuel and ammunition on quotas while Red China and theSoviet Union quadrupled their logistical supports totheir ally North Viet Nam. The balance of power was too lopsidedin favor of the North Vietnamese communist invaders.

In an articletitled “Heroic Allies”, Harry F. Noyes III,an USAF officer and Viet Nam veteran posed this question: “Would Americans do any better under theconditions that faced the South Vietnamese in 1975? Would units fight well with broken vehicles and communications, a crippled medicalsystem, inadequate fuel and ammunition, and little or no air support — againsta powerful, well-supplied and confident foeYouare the judge.

And now the lastone:

Were people in South Viet Nam happy with the North Vietnameseliberators after the so-called liberation of the South in April 1975?

At long last,the whole world has seen evidence that the communist invaders from North Viet Nam were very cunning and cleverThey knew how toshield the cruel bloodbath from the curiosity and scrutiny of the worldA network ofhard-labor death camps were established and camouflaged under a nice andcivilized name: Re-education CampsThese camps were places where thecommunist liberators could exact their most fiendish revenge against those ofthe former regime they labeled “lackeys of American Imperialists owing a blooddebt to the Vietnamese people Another inhumaneinvention the liberators from North Viet Nam created following their invasion of theSouth was nicely called: “New Economic Zone TheseNew Economic Zones were hastily set up in some virgin jungles barely tolerableliving conditions with serious threat of malaria disease in an attempt topunish family members of the military or government civil servants of theformer regime.

I havepersonally met many former officers of the ARVN who were incarcerated in thesehorrible re-education camps by the communist liberatorsOne of them was my classmate in OfficerCandidateSchool flight training with the USAF in 1958This Vietnamese AirForce friend of mine was locked up in a metal container under the sun where thetemperature could easily reach 110 degrees only because he refused to sign aconfession describing the war crimes the prison wardens claimed my friendcommitted with the U.S imperialists against the people of Viet Nam. According to various reports on humanrights corroborated by these former re-education camps inmates, the NorthVietnamese liberators brutally forced inmates to perform hard labor butprovided them minimum amount of food and no medical care. Many inmates starvedto death and others were left to die painfully and slowly from diseasesIn addition to dohard labor, all inmates were forced to undergo political indoctrinationclasses.

While militaryofficers, bureaucrats, politicians, religious and labor leaders, intellectualsand lawyers were imprisoned in re-education camps, their family members weredenied food ration card, education and job opportunity and were forced to moveto New Economic ZonesThere they were subjected to harsh physical labor, including landreclamation and agriculture work, because all the New Economic Zones weresupposed to be self-sufficientIn reality the New Economic Zones werenot prepared for the huge influx of urbanites & the living conditions wereexceptionally harsh. The camps had very poor infrastructure, no tools, no seedsfor crops, no pumps or farm equipment including minimal or no health services.Unprepared and unskilled at making a living in the harsh rural environment, alarge number of urbanites fled Viet Nam in what became known as the exodus ofthe boat people.

There are twoliving stories that truly exemplify the kind of freedom & democracy in South Viet Nam under the regime of the North VietnameseliberatorsThefirst one is from Truong Tang, the founder of theNational Liberation Front and a loyal collaborator of the Vietnamese communistinvaders. Following the so-called liberation of the South in April 1975, Mr.Truong became Minister of Justice of the Provisional Revolutionary Government.But after having lived with his communist comrades, Truong escaped the countryhe contributed so much to create.

In his memoirpublished in the U.S in 1985 titled “AViet Cong Memoir – An Inside Account of the Viet Nam War and itsAftermath”,he dedicated the book asfollows: “To my mother and fatherAnd to my betrayedcomrades, who believed they were sacrificing themselves for a humane liberationof their people”Accordingto the author, two of his brothers were victims of the re-education systemThrough connection& persistent efforts, he was able to get his younger brother out after fourmonths but his elder brother was still being incarcerated somewhere in a moresecure camp in North Viet Nam at the time he wrote his memoir in 1985In the lastparagraph of the foreword of his book, the disillusioned high-ranking member ofthe National Liberation Front has this to say: “The West knows, I think, extraordinarily little about the Viet Cong,its plan, its difficulties, especially its inner conflictsThe circumstances of war and the greatcare taken to conceal its workings combined to mask the revolution in secrecyBut the Viet Congwas no monolith, the motives of its members often clashed, violentlyAnd many of us whocomposed its political core have felt that its goals were, in the end,subvertedThehuman motives, the internal struggle, the bitter resolution, these are thethings I have attempted to record here.

The second storyis from Bui Tin, a more familiar and popular name in America in the early 1990sCol. Bui Tin joined the communistparty since 1945 when he was 18 because his father was a close friend with HoChi He was an Army officer in the battle in 1954 and in the subsequent years Col. Bui became a warreporter & then Deputy Editor of the official party daily newspaper DanWhen South Viet Nam fell on April 30th 1975, Bui Tinwas present at the IndependencePalace

After the illegal invasion of South Viet Nam under the deceptive patriotic slogan Liberation of the South, Bui Tin had theopportunity to see and witness the real living condition of the people in South Viet Nam with his own eyes and became disillusionedBui Tin defected in1989 and lived in ParisFranceSince his defection he revealed some of the mythsabout the great Uncle Ho and critically denounced the communist regime he oncenaively, blindly and conscientiously servedThis is what he said about Ho Chi in Lubbock, Texas:“The tale about Ho Chi being a great thinkerwith a simple life, full of virtues, taking pains to improve himself throughcontinuous learning and practice, casting away all his personal pleasures oflife in the interests of the nation, has recently reached a comic level, forthe Hanoi authorities have tried to convince their own State-controlledBuddhist Association to canonize Ho Chi as a`Buddha`. But the truth is coming out more and more every day with the passingof time. In complete contradiction with the image of Ho Chi as a man dedicated to the welfare of his people, accepting the sacrifice of alifetime of celibacy, it is now well-known that Ho Chi got married in Hong Kong, lived together for some time with Nguyen ,had numerous mistresses at various places where he passed through, hadoffspring out of wedlock, and, worse still, he completely ignored his formerwedded wife, Tang Tuyet ,who went to great pains and tried in vain to contact her husband after he hadbecome President of the country.”

In his book titled “From Enemy to Friend” Col. Bui has this to say about South Viet Nam after the so-called liberation by the North: “I was a witness to what happened in theSouth after April 1975I lived in Saigon for 4consecutive years, going to Hanoi onlyoccasionally. My mission was to organize the Southern Edition of Dan and to gather information for this newspaper while based in the South. TheSouthern population had just had time to reassure itself that there would be nobloodbath or people’s courts set up at every street corner when a series ofchilling measures was suddenly launched. The officers and government workers ofthe old regime, members of old political parties, and many others were orderedto report for “rehabilitation or reeducation”, which turned out to beimprisonment for an indefinite period!

On the 33rd anniversary of thefall of South Viet Nam known as Black April, Bui Tin openly said: “Today I am ready to raise my voice and letall of the people hear clearly: Our nation Vietnam was not liberated afterApril 30th 1975, nor was it unified. On April 30th the Communist Party won, butall of the people lost, to be ruled from that point on by a one-partydictatorship.

TheCommunist Party then implemented a policy of dominant occupation in the South,arresting millions of people and seizing property, discarding the South VNNational Liberation Front, and brought about the tragic scene of millions ofboat people fleeing the country. Is this liberation? Is this unification?

After April 30th, 1975, theCommunist Party monopolized authority, not allowing freedom of assembly, thepress, or elections. Is this what is called national liberation? Is thisfreedom?

In conclusion, Iam sure the legacy of the Viet Nam war will be indelible in the mind ofmany Vietnamese and AmericansThe pros and cons, right or wrong ofthat war will always be debatable depending on whom you talk toHowever, if youtalk to this old, retired Vietnamese veteran, you can rest assured I have nohidden agenda or personal ambition to stretch the truthIn fact, my only dream is to honestlyvoice the truth to set the record straight before taking off on my last flightwestAnd tome, the honest truth has always been:

– Unlike someWestern scholars, historians & writers who were either naïve or ignorant toportray Ho Chi as a nationalist, a patriot, aVietnamese George Washington, an Asian Tito when in reality Ho was a vicious,wicked & dishonest individualIt was Ho who dragged Viet Nam into the long 30-year war from the Northto the South.

UnitedStateAmerica never invaded Viet Nam. American Armed Forces were in Viet Nam to help the South Vietnamese in theirlegitimate self-defense against the North Vietnamese communist invaders. TheU.S intervention was not immoral as the liberal mainstream news media, the left-leaningelements and the draft dodger cowards of the sixtiesin America trying to smear.

– The shamelesslie widely bragged by the propaganda machine of North Viet Nam that they haddefeated the American Imperialist military in the Viet Nam War to liberateSouth Viet Nam must be rectified. This is absolutely necessary in order toremove the unjust stain smeared on the annals of the U.S. Armed Forces by thecommunists and the leftist, liberal news media in the 1960s and 1970s.

Hoi B. Tran

April 30th, 2013

FORYOUNGER GENERATION:

THEMEANING OF BLACK APRIL 30

 

With the coming of April 30,I’d first like to remind the younger generation, born after 1975, of oneimportant issue many of you still dont realize: The National Mourning Day ofApril 30 is a sad day because on that day, we, the South Vietnamese, lost ourcountry into the brutal hands of North Vietnamese communists from Hanoi. With their aggressive and illegal invasion by NorthVietnamese army they forced themselves into the free democratic territory ofthe South citizens, in 1975. Briefly, the National Mourning Day is the Day WeLost Our Country, the homeland of all Vietnamese who cherish liberty, humanrights, democracy and peace.

Despite this, many Vietnamese college students in America ignorantly gather in groups to party or socialize,have fun and dance on that day and night, as seen in the past years. This year,parents, please explain to your children the historical meaning of how tragicApril 30th is. After that day, approximately half a million Vietnamese in theSouth died on their way to escape communist brutality on the Eastern.

I hope Vietnamese grandparents and parents still remember to teach theirchildren the common Vietnamese proverb that was widely taught in our Southernschools in the RepublicVietnam before 1975: When one horse gets sick, the others in the whole stalldont eat. We should reflect on how horses have the ability to share their painand treat their own better than we, the human race, are able to.

The brave and tearful sacrifices of half a million Vietnamese, escaping by boatin the vast sea awakened the conscience of the United Nations. The UN HighCommissioner for Vietnamese Refugees took care of the expenses to set upRefugee Camps in the PhilippinesMalaysiaIndonesiaThailand and more… from 1978 to 1988. These camps receivedVietnamese refugees escaping from the communist regime and allowed temporaryliving. But the compassion didnt end there. Americans citizens and US Congressappealed to the American government for documents to approve Vietnameserefugees settling in America to start their new life. Gradually, other freecountries in the world supported and allowed South Vietnamese to seek asylum intheir home countries, including AustraliaCanadaFranceGermanyEnglandNew ZealandBelgiumDenmarkNorway… Our compatriots died for us to live. And now howcan those parents, i.e., the former Vietnamese refugees, indifferently (orunintentionally) allow their adult children to meet, have fun, and dance atnight in the approaching of the National Tragic Day of April 30?

Next, I’d like the younger generation to acknowledge another important part ofhistory from 1988 to 1989. US President, Ronald Reagan was successful in hisgreat task, helping former political prisoners of South Vietnam who were tremendously suffering from beingdiscriminated against and oppressed by the dictatorship of the single partycommunist government regime in Vietnam.

In 1988, President Reagan signed a decree permitting all Military, Citizens,Professionals and Government Officials of the Republic of Vietnam (RVN), allranks and levels included (who suffered for at least 3 years in the VCconcentration camps) and their families, could apply for settlement in Americalegally. Meaning, the political prisoners and their families didnt have toescape by hiding dangerously and walking to ThailandCambodia, or by riding on a small boat resembling a fragileleaf and perishing on the sea waves.

Just one year before, in 1987, many US Congress members from both Republicanand Democrat parties, along with former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State,Mr. Robert Funseth, made great efforts as the main negotiators to presentResolution 212. When the diplomats traveled to Vietnam to talk with VietnameseCommunists to liberate prisoners of RVN, who were enduring torturous treatmentin VC concentration camps with severe hard labor (that treacherous VC called“re-education” places), the VC argued against them roughly. They said: “No, wedont let them free. If we free those political and military prisoners of RVN,they would stand up and rebel across the country. Then, how can we control thepeople? Does your America accept all the (dirty) prisoners if we let them free…?”

The VC did not anticipate President Reagan would quickly affirm and reply thatthe RVN prisoners were welcome to immigrate to America if they were free to go. Thanks to President Reagan,an agreement between the and VC party was signed on July 30, 1989. Therefore, Resolution 212 was considered as thelegal document that liberated more than 300,000 South Vietnamese politicalprisoners. These Vietnamese people were allowed to leave communist Vietnam with their families to resettle and start a new lifein America.

Clearly, to the former prisoners of RVN: After the heavy rain, comes a brightsky. Lets hope and pray, even when we are betrayed, deceived, failed, or meetadversity… All things shall pass … along with the temporary human life.Lets trust those who work for the right cause and have kindness. We will riseabove adversity, have opportunities to come across, and support one another forsuccess.

Commemoration for April 30
TRẦN THỦY TIÊN – M.S.

@Diễn ĐànNgười Dân Việt

Source:

http://vioeujc.diendannguoidanvietnam.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=14179:vit-cho-gii-tr-y-ngha-ngay-quc-hn-3004gs-trn-thy-tien&catid=91:bai-vit&Itemid=73

Vietnam Sucker-Punches the on Human Rights

andReligious Freedom

by Michael Benge – April 27, 2013

For years, the AmericanEmbassy, the State Department, and the Senate have enabled communist Vietnam, ignoring the regime’s abuses of religious freedom andhuman rights to allow it privileged access to and international investments, markets, and donoraid. Now, Vietnam has sucker punched the by increasing its repression.

On April 11, the HouseCommittee on Foreign Affairs, chaired by Congressman Chris Smith, highlighted alitany of abuses by the communist Vietnamese. Congressman Smith explained thatthe House of Representatives had twice passed the Human Rights Acton Vietnam, only to have it rejected by the Senate. He noted the repeatedrecommendations by both the House and the United States Commission onInternational Religious Freedom to have the Department of State designate Vietnam as a “Country of Particular Concern” (CPC)for its ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom, as is required bythe InternationalReligious Freedom Act of 1998.

John Sifton, from Human Rights Watch — Asia, reported that”Police brutality, including torture in detention and fatal beatings,continued to be reported in all regions of the country.” His testimonycovered a plethora of human rights abuses, starting with fact that “agrowing number of dissidents — including religious leaders, bloggers, andpolitically active people — are being convicted and sent to jail forviolations of Vietnam’s authoritarian penal code, which prohibits publiccriticism of the government and the communist party. Others are jailed forexposing corruption.”

Former Congressman Anh”Joseph” Cao said, “Since 2007, Vietnam has been backsliding on human rights, and is now theproud possessor of the title ‘The Worse Violator of Human Rights in Southeast Asia‘. Political opposition is outlawed; repression ofdissidents intensified; severe restrictions on freedom of expression imposed;bloggers and peaceful activists are arrested, imprisoned, and tortured. In mostcases, national security has been cited as a pretext for the illegal arrestsand criminal investigations. One of the main groups of people who have sufferedgreatly under Vietnam‘s opposition has been the religious faithful and leaders.”

Religious abuses

Vietnam is an equal opportunity religious rights abuser: its targets includeProtestants, Catholics, Buddhists, Hoa Hao, and CaoDai as well. The regimefears all religions as an organized threat to its own political religion –communism.

On March 17, VamNgaij Vaj, a Hmong elder and leader of a protestant church in Cu JutDistrict, Dak Nong Province, was savagely tortured and then beaten to death bypolice officials. This is not an isolated incident, but commonplace. Vaj’sbattered body showed extensive marks from electric shocks with cattle prods,which are often used to torture prisoners. His torture and murder is an exampleof how police officials intimidate and terrorize Christian ethnic minorities inthe Central and NorthernHighlandsVietnam

Anna Buonya, representingthe Montagnard Human Rights Organization, testified about the persecution of abroad spectrum of ethnic minorities, adding that entire Hmong villages havebeen destroyed by Vietnamese authorities because they practiced Christianity.In the past few years, over 4000 Montagnard house churches have been destroyed.There are currently over 400 Montagnard Christians, many of them preachers, whohave been imprisoned for their religious and political beliefs; some for aslong as 16 years. She stated that it is common practice by the Vietnameseauthorities to deny prisoners clean water, sufficient food, and family visits.

Robbing the faithful

Ms. Buonya also spoke ofanother form of persecution. Most ethnic minorities in the central highlandslive on a small plot of marginal land covered with scrub brush, on which theyare barely able to grow subsistence crops to feed their families. Often, afterthey have carved out fields, built homes, improved the land, and planted, theirland is taken by the government when the crops are ready to harvest –confiscated with no compensation or recourse. The family is arrested on thespurious charge of “destroying forest” and the newly-developed landis sold to ethnic Vietnamese settlers or to large agricultural companies toplant cash crops such as rubber. The money from the stolen land goes to linethe pockets of local officials.

Also testifying before thecommittee was Tien Thanh Tran, a member of the Con Dau Catholic Parish in theDiocese of Da Nang, which has 135 years of history. On May 4, 2010, during a funeral for a 90-year-old parishioner,several hundred police and members of the Fatherland Front — a parastatalgroup used for government-sanctioned thuggery — attacked the procession andbrutally beat over 100 parishioners, including men, women, and children, andarrested more than 60 persons. The prisoners were repeatedly tortured withcattle prods and beatings to the head, back, and legs; some weeks on end. Atleast one prisoner died from this abuse. Mr. Tran suffered multiple injuries,including having both eardrums broken and a hole pierced in his eye.

The purpose of these brutalacts is to force the parishioners to leave so local officials can expropriatethe land from the church and its members and sell it at a huge profit for selfenrichment; while simultaneously wiping out this historical Catholic parish. OnDecember 19, 2012, police and thugsbroke into the house of a remaining parishioner at lunch time to beat up thewife and rape a woman in front of her husband and two daughters. Similar abuseshave happened in other Catholic parishes across Vietnam

Behind Hanoi‘s mask

Vo Van Ai, InternationalSpokesman of the United Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV), testified that theUBCV is “Vietnam’s largest religious organization and has a history ofpeaceful social activism and moral reform,” yet UBCV’s 85-year-oldPatriarch Thich Quang Do remains under house arrest, and the UBCV is outlawedby the communist government. He said, “Whilst appreciating the StateDepartment’s reports of abuses against the UBCV, we are concerned that theyportray but a pale picture of the systematic police pressures, harassment andintimidation faced by UBCV Buddhists in every aspect of their dailylives.” The UBCV “has faced decades of harassment and repression forseeking independent status and for appealing to the government to respectreligious freedom and related human rights.” Vo Van Ai called upon theState Department to “look behind Hanoi‘s mask, beyond the veneer of State-sponsored freedomof worship, and recognize the full extent of religious repression.”

The U.S. Commission on InternationalReligious Freedom reports that the UBCV has suffered marked increases inbeatings, arrests, detention (up to 15 years), and harassment of groups andindividuals viewed as hostile to the communist party. The UBCV is preventedfrom carrying out educational and charitable activities and from celebratingreligious occasions, such as Buddha’s birthday, and dignitaries are preventedfrom traveling and meeting together. Believers are under threat of losing theirjobs and having their children expelled from school.

Hanoi has also set up a series of phony churches, templesand monasteries, as well as purported religious institutions; and when visitingdelegations from the or other countries are there to investigatereligious freedoms they are actually taken to these false fronts.Alternatively, they may be shown actual places of worship but met there bycommunist officials (công an tôn giáo) — wolves in sheep’s clothing –disguised in the robes of Catholic priests, Buddhists monks, and Protestantpreachers. These double agents spoon-feed disinformation to naïve orregime-enabling Western embassy and Foreign Service officials, and to humanrights and religious freedom investigators.

Nowhere to run

Ms. Buonya and otherstestified that there is no safe haven for asylum-seekers fleeing human rightsabuses. She told of two Montagnards who have suffered severe persecution andphysical beatings by the Vietnamese police and have been in hiding for severalyears. Miraculously, they were finally able to obtain an interview with theU.S. consulate while yet in hiding, only to be told by the InternationalOrganization for Migration that unless they obtained a passport from theVietnamese government, their application would be denied.

Even if they are able toescape to Thailand, the Montagnards face rejection by the UnitedNations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), upon which they could be arrestedand put in immigration detention. Worse yet, they could be sent back to Vietnam. For years, Vietnamese agents of influence implantedwithin UNHCR have held sway over the agency regarding refugees. Because ofthis, many refugees are returned; such was the case when refugee camps wereclosed in Cambodia. Many more refugees have been detained in Thailand for several years. Even though some have immediatefamily in the United States; the American Embassy is unwilling to intervene ontheir behalf.

And the band plays on

Communist Vietnam hasviolated every agreement it has made with the United States. Even so, the government continues to bend over backward toappease this regime. In the process, the has given away nearly all its leverage to influence Vietnam‘s human rights abuses. The only significant leverremaining is the ongoing “Trans-PacificPartnership (TPP)” negotiations. The free-trade TPP negotiatingpartners include AustraliaBruneiDarussalamCanadaChileMalaysiaMexicoNew ZealandSingapore, and the , is holding separate talks with Vietnam for its inclusion.

Before Vietnam is given the advantages of inclusion in this newtrade pact, there must be vast improvements in the areas of human rights,religious freedom, and free trade unions.

Michael Benge spent 11years in Vietnam as a foreign service officer and isa student of South East Asian politics. He is very active in advocating forhuman rights, religious freedom, and democracy for the peoples of the regionand has written extensively on these subjects.

Courtesy: http://www.americanthinker.com/2013/04/vietnam_sucker-punches_the_us_on_human_rights_and_religious_freedom.html#ixzz2Ri4Qh5vF

HAUNTING MEMORIES OFBRAVE COMRADES

By J. StrykerMeyer

When I die, if the Lordgives me a moment to reflect before I breathe my last breath, my first thoughtswill be not of my loved ones, nor my children.

I’ll reflect on and thank God for , , Phuoc, Tuan, Hung, Son, Quang, , and . Captains Tuong and Thinh and lieutenants Trung and Trong will follow themin my thoughts. Then, I’ll think of my loving wife, our talented and uniquechildren, and our folks.

Why the Vietnamese men before my loved ones? Withoutthe courage, strength and fearless verve as combatantsin America‘s secret war in Southeast Asia, I wouldn’t have returned to the United States.

Today, on the 25th anniversary of the fall of Saigon, I’ll pause to salute those warriors, men most Americans will neverhear about, including the more than 3 million troops sent to South Vietnam during America‘s longest and costliest war.

There are many who do not respect or salute the Vietnamese who fought in Vietnam. That’s because our country has failed to educatethem about the Vietnamese, the country they sent us to and its history andcustoms. As Green Berets, we fought side by side with them, laughed with and learned about their families, their dreams andhopes and fears.

The first group were members of Spike Team Idaho, a reconnaissance team that ran classified missionsinto CambodiaNorth Vietnam under the aegis of the Military Assistance CommandVietnam, Studies and Observation Group —- SOG. Green Berets, Navy SEALs and U.S. Marine Corps ForceReconnaissance troops manned several special operation commands throughout South Vietnam.

I joined Spike Team Idaho in May 1968, after six members of the teamdisappeared in a target area. Three U.S. Green Berets and three Vietnamese mercenarieswere never heard from again and remain listed as missing in action today. By’68, Idaho operated out of , 10 miles south of . In May, there were 30 recon teams there. ByNovember, Idaho was the only operational team left in camp. Theenemy troops in CambodiaNorth Vietnam were well-trained, fearless and well-equipped.

Captains Tuong and Thinhand lieutenants Trung and Trongwere helicopters pilots who flew Sikorsky H-34s in the Vietnamese 219thHelicopter Squadron for SOG. Time and again, they flew the older H-34s, whichwe called “KINGBEES,” into landing zones where enemy soldiers triedto knock them out of the sky.

For several months in ’68, the KINGBEES were the only aircraft flying SOG teams”across the fence” deep into enemy territory. In , the CIA estimated there were between 30,000 and40,000 North Vietnamese troops keeping the Ho Chi Trail open, bringing supplies from the north to South Vietnam —- and fighting SOG troops.

During my 17 months on Idaho,we always left targets under heavy fire from North Vietnamese troops. The ridehome was in KINGBEES and every time we asked for one, it came, regardless ofenemy fire. There are many Green Berets alive today thanks to the incredibleflying skills of Vietnamese Kingbee pilots. Andwithout the Vietnamese or Montagnard team members,there would have been more than the 161 killed in SOG operations.

was the Vietnamese team leader on Spike Team Idaho. When I landed at , had been fighting forSpecial Forces nearly five years. Weighing less than 100 pounds soaking wet, had a remarkable sixth sense: He could smell the enemy.In the jungle he moved with complete stealth and silence, often cursing hislarger American counterparts.

was the team’s interpreter, who sometimescorrected troops on their English, as well as speakingVietnamese, French and some Chinese.

Phuoc, , and Hung all signed up with Special Forces when theywere 15 or 16. After hundreds of hours of intensive training, their age didn’tmatter as they stood tall in combat.

On Oct. 7, 1968, SpikeTeam Idaho, after trying to escape from North Vietnamesetrackers, was attacked by NVA soldiers, who opened fire on full automatic. had warned they were near. Although none of theAmericans heard anything, , Phuoc, and Don Wolken were onalert, with their weapons on full automatic, ready to go.

In those firefights the first seconds are crucial. The submachine guns wecarried fired 20 high-velocity rounds in 1 1/2 seconds. ,Phuoc and reloaded and drove the NVA back down thejungle-shrouded hill. We gained fire superiority, but the NVA never stoppedcoming at us. After a while, they were firing at us from behind stacks of deadbodies. They came at us from 2 p.m. until dusk, time and again rushing us, trying to overrun our position.We had Air Force Phantom jets, Skyraidersand helicopter gunships dropping bombs, napalm andcluster bombs and make strafing runs. That was the first time I could recallsmelling burnt human flesh.

By dusk, we were low on ammo, hand grenades and roundsfor our grenade launcher. Capt. Thinh flew his H-34to a slight rise above our position, hovering in deep elephant grass —-thick-bladed grass that grew more than 12 feet tall. Because the grass wasthick and the NVA tried to close in on us again, it took us several minutes toget to the Kingbee.

When I arrived under it, I looked up at Capt. Thinh,sitting there looking as calm as a RockyMountain breeze in springtime, and he smiled. Finally, wewere loaded and he yanked us out of there. , , Phuocand I fired off our last magazine of rounds and threw our last grenade as wepulled out of the landing zone, again under heavy enemy fire.

Within a few minutes we were at 4,000 feet, returning to . We were safe and unharmed. The Kingbee had 48 holes from bullets and grenades in its sidepanels and propellers. The new American on the team quit the next day. , and Phuoc ate dinner before I arranged for and to return to theirfamilies that night. That scene unfolded hundreds of times over the course of SOG’s history.

I carry a deep, haunting guilt for having left them in South Vietnam.

(J. Stryker Meyer, aNorth County Times staff writer, served in the Special Forces from 1968 to1970.)

Courtesy: http://www.vnafmamn.com/VNAF_sikorsky.html