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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 36, Number 10. 23rd May 1973

Indochina Today

page 11

Indochina Today

Photo of Australian Labour PArty panel

Australian Labour Party Senator John Wheeldon, chairman of the joint parliamentary committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence, opens the delegation's last meeting in Sydney.

N.Z. Still Supports Nixon

This week a joint delegation from the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam should have been visiting New Zealand.

Because of statements by the Prime Minister, alleging that the P.R.G. was no more than a 'political movement', and suggesting that the P.R.G. representatives were merely puppets of the North Vietnamese, the delegation decided to decline the Committee on Vietnam's invitation to come to New Zealand.

When questioned by the press at the beginning of the month about the visit Mr Kirk said that although no application for visas had been received, only people who accepted the Government of North Vietnam or the Government of the Republic of Vietnam (the Thieu Administration) as their government could visit New Zealand.

The delegation's and the C.O.V.'s fears that Mr Kirk intended to use the visit to try to politically embarrass the P.R.G. were confirmed in a letter he wrote to Ken Stanton of Porirua on May 10. Kirk stated: "Upon enquiry we have found that members of the party, including the three Viet Cong (sic), are travelling on North Vietnamese passports.

"This confirms the Government's view that the so-called "Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam" is not an independent government".

After the delegation decided not to come to New Zealand the Chairman and Treasurer of the C.O.V., Mike Law and Rona Bailey, and the co-editor of "Salient", Peter Franks, flew to Sydney to meet the Vietnamese. Thanks to the co-operation of A.I.C.D., the organisers of the delegation's visit to Sydney, they were able to attend all the delegation's meetings. The articles in this supplement are based on the meetings and discussions with the Vietnamese.

Mr Kirk's attitude to the delegation's visit and to the whole Indochina question is curious in the light of the Government's boasts that it is following an independent foreign policy. Despite the recognition of China and Joe Walding's trip to Peking the Labour Party has not changed it predecessor's pro-American policy towards Indochina.

Since the ceasefire Mr Kirk has echoed Nixon's policy by continuing to support Thieu in South Vietnam and Lon Nol in Cambodia. Like the Americans and Lon Nol he has called for a negotiated settlement in Cambodia, despite the fact that Lon Nol rules little more than Phnom Penh, while (he Royal Government of National Union, headed by Prince Sihanouk, controls over 90% of the territory and the great majority of the population. Kirk has repeated all the U.S. Government's wild accusations about D.R.V. and P.R.G. violations of the Peace Agreement. Occasionally he has tried to cover up his pro-American policies by 'condeming' U.S. bombing of Vietnam and Cambodia, but these attempts have not been successful.

All this suggests that Kirk's 'independent foreign policy' is just a new way of continuing Holyoake and Marshall's sub-servience to the United States Government. As the People's Voice stated on May 16: "The Labour Government is just as partisan under its guise of impartiality: It uses the old technique of appearing to find fault on both sides in order to do nothing — except carry on as usual while doing nothing to oppose aggression, tyranny and injustice."

Photo of Professor Vu Quang Chuyen and Nguyen Van Chi

Professor Vu Quang Chuyen from Hanoi University and Nguyen Van Chi, the leader of the D.R.V. delegation, address the meeting, which was attended by over five hundred people.

What We Must Do Now

Discussions with the joint Vietnamese delegation have confirmed the Committee on Vietnam's view that the major aim of the New Zealand anti-war movement at present should be to demand that the United States Government, the Saigon regime and the New Zealand Government strictly implement all the provisions of the Paris Peace Agreement on Vietnam.

Peter Franks' report on meetings and discussions with the delegation outlines the extent of the violations of the ceasefire by the U.S. and Thieu. The seriousness of the present situation in Indochina cannot be overemphasised.

The Vietnamese told us they were determined to implement the Agreement peacefully through political struggle. However they said they had warned the United States Government and the Saigon Administration that if violations of the ceasefire continued the P.R.G. would be forced to go onto the offensive to defend liberated areas. The delegation called on the anti-war movement in Australia and New Zealand to assist the Vietnamese people in ensuring the correct implementation of the agreement.

Apart from this fundamental demand the New Zealand anti-war movement must concentrate on the following areas:
1)The New Zealand Government should recognise the P.R.G. and the D.R.V. as part of helping to ensure the strict implementation of the Peace Agreement. Failure to do so will only help Thieu in his policy of trying to sabotage the agreement.
2)The total and immediate release of about 300,000 political prisoners held by the Saigon Administration so that no one will be ill-treated, tortured or physically eliminated, and the provisions relating to the political future of South Vietnam can be fully implemented.
3)Support for medical and reconstruction aid to Indochina. A nationwide appeal for aid is in the process of being launched by the C.O.V. and the N.Z. Medical Aid Committee. The Vietnamese welcomed this appeal and suggested that aid to Indochina should be aimed at specific projects, such as a particular school or hospital. The idea behind this suggestion was that people giving money would know exactly where their money was going. Other specific requests were for building materials, school equipment and 12 horse power ploughing machines.
4)Support for the strict implementation of the Peace Agreement on Laos and the demand for the immediate cessation of the U.S. bombing of Cambodia, especially since the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have demanded the same thing.

— Michael G. Lam, Chairman, Wellington Committee on Vietnam