Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 36, Number 10. 23rd May 1973
How the U.S. and Thieu Violate the Peace Agreement
How the U.S. and Thieu Violate the Peace Agreement
"When you go back home I would like you to extend our enormous thanks to our friends in New Zealand for their support for the Vietnamese people. Of course it would have been much better if we had been able to come to New Zealand, but because we have been unable to do so we are very pleased that you have come here to meet us".
With these words Le Duy Van, the Secretary of the Peace Committee of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, greeted four members of the Committee on Vietnam who flew to Sydney to meet the joint peace delegation from the D.R.V. and the Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam during the final stage of the delegation's visit to Australia.
Friendship Towards New Zealand
The reasons why the delegation was unable to come to New Zealand are discussed fully in separate articles in this issue. Despite Mr Kirk's negative attitude towards the delegation the six representatives of the D.R.V. and the P.R.G. showed a very friendly attitude towards New Zealand and a great interest in New Zealand politics.
As with the North Vietnamese trade union delegation that visited New Zealand in February the most striking thing about the D.R.V. — P.R.G. peace delegation was the Vietnamese' tremendous sense of internationalism. Every time they spoke at meetings and discussions while we were in Sydney the members of the delegation would reiterate that the Vietnamese people's struggle against American aggression for national liberation and independence was not just isolated to Indochina. They put great emphasis on the international support for their cause precisely because they saw their struggle as being part of a common struggle being waged throughout the world.
The Vietnamese reiterated that the Paris Agreement on ending the War and restoring peace in Vietnam was a very great victory in their struggle. At a teach-in at Sydney University the leader of the P.R.G. delegation, Nguyen Van Tien, explained why his people saw the agreement as a victory.
Withdrawal of US Troops a Victory
"On March 29 this year, 90 days after the agreement was signed the last G.I. left for home. That marks a great victory. For the first time for over a hundred years there is not a single foreign combat soldier on Vietnamese soil. Vietnam was first under the yoke of the French colonists, then Japanese fascists, the French colonists again, and finally the U.S. imperialists."
The Provisional Revolutionary Government and the government of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam see their main task at present as being to force the Americans and the Saigon Administration to strictly implement the provisions of the Paris Agreement. Since the agreement was signed on January 27 there have been many allegations in the western press that both sides have committed serious violations of it's provisions, especially those relating to the ceasefire. On the basis of these reports politicians such as Mr Kirk have stated that both sides in Vietnam are equally to blame for failing to restore peace in Indochina.
How can we Undermine our Victory?
When we asked the delegation about the charge that the D.R.V. and the P.R.G. were violating the agreement as much as the Americans and the Thieu Administration, the leader of the D.R.V. delegation, Nguyen Van Chi, answered in the following way. "I think we should bring to the notice of people throughout the world that the agreement was the initiative of the D.R.V. and the P.R.G., and we pushed for that initiative at the peace talks in Paris even in early October 1972. We have to implement the agreement strictly and correctly because to do otherwise would be to negate our own initiative! The United States and the Saigon Administration tried to sabotage the negotiations and tried to avoid signing the agreement. In order to put pressure on us and frighten us they sent their B52 planes to bomb North Vietnam for twelve days in December and early January. Although this was the heaviest bombing of the war they failed in their efforts to intimidate our people, and in the end they had to sign the agreement. However many provisions in the January agreement were more profitable for us than those in the October draft agreement. We say the agreement was a victory for us, the D.R.V. and the P.R.G., not a victory for the United States or the Saigon Administration. How can we violate an agreement which is a victory for us and a defeat for our opponents?"
Agreement Based on P.R.G's Proposals
Nguyen Van Chi's point that the D.R.V. and the P.R.G. would be made to undermine their own victory can be further understood if the Paris Peace Agreement is compared to the Vietnamese liberation movement's past peace proposals. All the major points of the Provisional Revolutionary Government's Seven-point Peace Proposals of July 1971 were incorporated in the agreement, and many of the fundamental provisions of the agreement can be traced back as far as the D.R.V.'s four point peace proposals of April 1965 and the N.F.L.'s ten point political programme of December 1960. At the time these different proposals were made they were rejected by the American Government spokesmen as being "tantamount to a defeat". The fact that the United States Government and its minion Thieu had to finally sign the Paris Agreement emphasises the point made in the January 29 issue of the authoritive Far Eastern Economic Review that "after eight years of unnecessary bloodshed and cruelty, the United States has finally signed the surrender document".
Independent research in the United States has confirmed the D.R.V. and P.R.G. claims that they have not violated the ceasefire. While we were in Sydney the main peace organisation there, the Association for International Co-operation and Disarmament (A.I.C.D.), received
a copy of a study by NARMIC, an American anti-war research group, which showed that there has not been one documented case of violations by the P.R.G. There is also little evidence for the allegations that the North Vietnamese have violated the ceasefire by 'invading' Cambodia. Writing from Phnom Penh in the April 27 New York Times, Malcolm W. Browne stated:
"Official American sources here said today (April 20) that since the Vietnam ceasefire three months ago, there has been no documented evidence that Vietnamese Communist troops are serving in combat roles in Cambodia.
"One source", Browne continued, "said that the Vietnamese influence on Cambodian insurgent forces was continuing to decline. That assessment has been corroborated in recent weeks by Cambodian officers in the field and by residents of villages in combat areas".
50 Division Size Offensives by Saigon
Nguyen Van Tien of the P.R.G. delegation told us that since the ceasefire agreement was signed the P.R.G. armed forces had undertaken only strictly defensive operations against attacks on the liberated areas by Saigon troops. Because of the extent of these attacks, which have included at least 50 offensives of division size, the P.R.G. recently warned the United States and the Saigon Administration that if they continued to violate the ceasefire the liberation armed forces would be forced to launch counterattacks as a more effective form of defence of their areas of control.
The delegation pointed out the various types of violations of the ceasefire which have been committed by the United States Government and its lackeys in Saigon.
Although the Americans have withdrawn all their combat troops 10,000 military personnel have been left in civilian clothes under Temporary Duty Assignment' (TDA). These 'civilian advisors' are employed by private firms, but as these firms are under contract to the Pentagon to provide 'civilian technicians' the men on TDA are in fact working for the Defence Department.
Bases and Armaments given to Thieu
Under Article 6 of the Peace Agreement the United States agreed to dismantle all its military bases in South Vietnam within sixty days of the agreement being signed. Under Article 5 the U.S. pledged to withdraw all its armaments and munitions. What the Americans have done to get around these provisions of the agreement has been to turn over its bases and munitions to the Saigon Administration, in violation of Article 7.
The United States Government has tried its best to cover up these violations by claiming, for example, that it has now got not a single military base in South Vietnam! However attempts to fool the P.R.G. and people throughout the world have not been very successful. One case where the Americans were caught red
handed was the 'Japan Incident'. The United States Government, with the complicity of the Japanese Government, transferred 10,000 tons of weapons from Japan to South Vietnam. Unfortunately the Japanese anti-war movement found out, and after large demonstrations the Japanese Government was forced to admit that the Americans had been exporting armaments from Japan to South Vietnam.
10,000 mines in 10,000 months?
The Nixon Administration has also violated provisions of the ceasefire relating to North Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. Under Article 2 of the agreement the United States promised to end the mining of "the territorial waters, ports, harbours, and waterways of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam". In three months the Americans have exploded only three mines out of the estimated 10,000 mines dropped in North Vietnamese waters, Nguyen Van Tien commented that the United States Government had resorted to different reasons to justify the delay in clearing all the mines. "But if one takes into account the huge military power and technology of the U.S. its failure to explode more than I mine per month is quite inexplicable. Perhaps it will take the United States 10,000 months to complete the clearance of 10,000 mines".
Furthermore the Americans sent 15 ships, dozens of helicopters and hundreds of troops to North Vietnam to clear the mines. Their failure to make any progress in doing so suggests that the real reason for the presence of so many American military personnel is to gather intelligence information, in violation of Article 7 of the Protocol to the Paris Agreement concerning the removal of the mines.
In a speech to the Australian Overseas Students Conference, Le Mai, a member of the P.R.G. delegation, explained how the D.R.V. and P.R.G. had discovered another American violation in relation to page break >[unclear: forth] Vietnam. "When we asked Ameri-[unclear: an] officials how we had violated the [unclear: asefire] they told us that the D.R.V. [unclear: id] sent troops and armaments into [unclear: uth] Vietnam. We then asked what evi[unclear: nce] they had for this accusation. The [unclear: mericans] replied that they had this in-[unclear: rmation] because of reconnaissance [unclear: ghts] over the D.R.V. We told them that [unclear: uder] the Paris Agreement they were [unclear: rbidden] to carry out such means of [unclear: thering] intelligence. The U.S. Govern-[unclear: ent] officials were confused and could [unclear: it] answer."
[unclear: Laos] and Cambodia
While there is scant evidence of D.R.V. [unclear: nd] P.R.G. military operations in Cam-[unclear: dia]. the Americans have flagrantly viol-[unclear: ed] the Peace Agreements on Vietnam [unclear: d] Laos by continuing heavy bombing [unclear: ids] over both countries. Nguyen Van [unclear: en] said that recently the U.S. has mobil-[unclear: d] most of its South-East Asian strategic [unclear: rforce], including that based in Guam, in [unclear: effort] to save the 'mayor of Phnom [unclear: nh]', Lon Nol. Despite the bombing the [unclear: tetnamese] were confident that victory [unclear: r] the liberation forces in the other two [unclear: untries] was close at hand.
[unclear: Military] Delegates Harassed
Two members of the P.R.G. delegation, [unclear: a] Mai and Le Hai, had been members of [unclear: e] P.R.G. contingent of the four party [unclear: int] Military Commission (which also [unclear: eludes] representatives of the D.R.V., [unclear: e] United States and the Saigon regime) [unclear: ich] was set up under the agreement to [unclear: lp] implement the ceasefire. They both [unclear: ovided] interesting insights into attempts [unclear: a] the Americans and Thieu to hinder [unclear: e] work of the J.M.C
Under Article 3 of the agreement the [unclear: med] forces of the two South Vietnam-[unclear: e] parties (the P.R.G. and the Saigon [unclear: Ad-inistration)] are required to remain in [unclear: ace] in the areas under their control at [unclear: e] time the agreement was signed. The [unclear: erated] areas controlled by the P.R.G. [unclear: e] scattered throughout South Vietnam [unclear: the] form of 'leopard spots', and the [unclear: lieu] Administration has attempted to [unclear: occupy] areas around the cities and [unclear: wns] it controls, areas around import-[unclear: it] communication lines, and areas on [unclear: nd] and coastal borders. Le Mai cited [unclear: e] case of the port town of Sa Huynh, [unclear: southern] Quang Ngai province, which [unclear: as] under P.R.G. control at the time of [unclear: ie] ceasefire. Five days later the Saigon [unclear: rces] reoccupied this town, and as the [unclear: R.G.] representatives on the J.M.C. had [unclear: lough] evidence of this violation they [unclear: ked] for a four party investigation.
Officers from the four parties were [unclear: nt] to the area, but when they arrived in [unclear: a] Nang the local representatives of the [unclear: hieu] regime organised a 'popular' attack [unclear: n] the D.R.V. and P.R.G. officers. Des-[unclear: ite] this the D.R.V. and P.R.G. represent-[unclear: tives] demanded that the investigation [unclear: ould] continue. Unable to intimidate [unclear: ieir] opponents the representatives of the [unclear: S.] and the Thieu Administration then [unclear: ibotaged] the mission by secretly return-[unclear: ng] to Saigon at night, so that the in-[unclear: estigation] could not continue.
[unclear: Journalists] Kept from Delegation
Le Hai described how the Thieu Ad[unclear: ministration] attempted to hinder the [unclear: ork] of the D.R.V. and P.R.G. dele-[unclear: ates] to the Joint Military Commission [unclear: a] Saigon. "When the delegation arrived [unclear: it] was surrounded all the time by Thieu's [unclear: military] police and forbidden to move [unclear: reely]. Everywhere we went we were [unclear: urrounded] by Thieu's military police who [unclear: revented] the local people from making [unclear: ny] contact with us. The Thieu Admin-[unclear: itration] even forbade native and foreign [unclear: ressmen] from meeting our delegation. [unclear: They] threatened to gun down the press-[unclear: nen] who tried to infiltrate our residence [unclear: o] interview us. One scene I witnessed [unclear: was] when a number of pressmen turned up at the gate of our residence. The military police forbade them to enter and threatened them with their machine guns. One of the foreign pressmen, who spoke French, took off his coat and challenged an M. P. to shoot him and said 'You are lost, you are lost'."
Political Struggle most Important
So far I have concentrated on military violations of the ceasefire. Although the military aspects of the Vietnamese conflict have always received the greatest attention in the western press the P.R.G. and the N.F.L. have always placed greater emphasis on the political nature of the conflict. As Wilfred Burchett shows in his book Vietnam will win, the Vietnamese liberation fighters see their struggle primarily in political terms.
It is not surprising that the Thieu Administration has completely failed to implement Chapter IV of the Paris Agreement, which deals with the procedures for working out the political future of South Vietnam. All of the provisions in this chapter came straight from the P.R.G's 1971 Peace Proposals and its 1969 political programme.
The PRC's analysis of the political struggle in South Vietnam has clearly identified the United States Government as the main enemy. As the Pentagon Papers showed the history of South Vietnamese 'Governments' since the 1954 Genva Agreement, has been one of constant attempts by the Americans to find a 'stable' dictator in Saigon. Like all his predecessors 'President' Thieu remains in power solely because of American support. The U.S. Government has given him the world's third largest air force, the second most powerful arsenal of conventional weapons, an army of one million men and a very large para-military police force.
National Unity against U.S. Aggression
To defeat the Americans in their continuing attempt to divide Vietnam permanently and establish a neo-colony in the south, the N.F.L. and the P.R.G. have adopted a policy of working for the broadest possible national unity of all social, political and religious groups that believe in peace, independence, democracy and neutrality. Thus the P.R.G. demanded that the Peace Agreement should provide for the inclusion of the neutralist forces in any political settlement in South Vietnam. As explained elsewhere the P.R.G. itself is a very representative coalition of South Vietnamese political forces.
The PRC delegation stressed two particular areas in which Thieu has attempted to sabotage the Peace Agreement.
Firstly he has denied hundreds of thousands of refugees in the towns and cities the right to return to their native villages, a right guaranteed under Article 11 of the agreement, and has kept these people virtual prisoners in concentration camps, euphemistically known as strategic hamlets, refugee camps or resettlement camps. If the refugees were allowed to return to their villages, largely under P.R.G. control, the Saigon Administration would lose all credibility.
Thieu lies to the Pope
Secondly Thieu still refuses to release the 300,000 or more political prisoners held in his jails. Many of these people belong to the neutralists or 'Third Force', and under continued imprisonment is a means of sabotaging the provisions of the agreement which guarantee the neutralists a stake in South Vietnam's political future. Lately Thieu has pretended he is holding no political prisoners in his jails, and even made this claim to the Pope, despite the fact that his regime holds many Catholics as prisoners.
Like the American and Saigon Administration attempts to wreck the ceasefire these attempts to sabotage the political provisions of the agreement are doomed to failure. The more Thieu represses the people under his control, the more they will turn to support the P.R.G.
Aid Important for Showing Solidarity
Although the Vietnamese delegation was optimistic about the future prospects of the struggle in their country, they never stopped reminding Australians that the conflict was by no means over. In thanking people throughout the world for supporting them, the P.R.G. and D.R.V. representatives stated that they still needed international support to force the Americans and Thieu to implement all the provisions of the Peace Agreement. Every expression of support was important, they said. They saw medical and reconstruction aid as an important way of showing solidarity with their cause, as well as being very useful in the reconstruction of their country.
At the delegation's last public meeting in Sydney Ken McLeod, secretary of the Sydney AICD, quoted Le Van Sou, the P.R.G. spokesman in Paris, on the meaning of international solidarity for the Vietnamese.
"He said we understand what solidarity means, however small it may be. Amongst our people there is a saying that a piece of bread when you are hungry is more precious than a banquet when you are full. The peace movement's voices of solidarity are more precious to us than all the gold in the world."
By their actions in bringing the world's most powerful nation to its knees the Vietnamese people have been fighting on behalf of people all over the world. They have shown the people of wealthy as well as oppressed countries that a decadent, dehumanised technological society can be defeated by ordinary people relying on their will to win and their own ingenuity. In their struggle against the Americans the Vietnamese have shown the way to true human liberation. For that reason especially we must keep on supporting them.