VNTB - Fear Remains Unabated

Translated by Kate Chesterson  VNTB- On a rare occasion when the state-run press was allowed to mention the 40 th  anniversary of Commu...

Translated by Kate Chesterson 

VNTB- On a rare occasion when the state-run press was allowed to mention the 40th anniversary of Communist China’s invasion of Vietnam, many assumed that this year the ban on activities to commemorate the Vietnamese fallen would somehow be eased while others were on the alert. In reality, what actually happened on 17th February, 2019 has shown that those on the alert were right.

Document supposedly issued by Ho Chi Minh City Communist Party Committee

Never before had activities to honor the anti-China fallen on 17th February been intensely prevented as the 40th anniversary of the war on the Sino-Vietnamese border. 
Hanoi mobilized a whole army of police from ward/district-to city-level to prevent likely activities. A great many activists were closely watched right at their house. On my part alone, approximately 10 policemen were dispatched to my place. Those who managed to squeeze past the siege only approached the vicinity of monuments where wreaths of flowers could be placed to celebrate the fallen were immediately detained and taken into custody at police stations.
Most touching were efforts of three women: Dang Bich Phuong, Hoang Thi Ha, and Nguyen Hong Hanh. Getting up after a restless night, besides the daily routine, the three worriedly thought about the divine moment to express their gratitude to the fallen. Up at the crack of dawn, they secretly communicated with each other, set off on a long journey to Quang Ba and chose to buy the most beautiful 100 flowers on their way. Their preparedness days before, however, was rendered fruitless in no time. On arriving at the Monument of the Bac Son Fallen, no sooner had they placed the wreaths than they were promptly arrested. Tax payers’ money was generously spent as the local authorities mobilized up to three vehicles to take the three women – each on a vehicle- to police stations.
Meanwhile, Ho Chi Minh city was no exception; the authorities’ invariable move was to closely watch and control every one of the activists. A document was supposedly issued by the Party Committee to direct and prevent all commemorative activities concerning the 17th February Anniversary. It specially named Le Hieu Dang Club, referring to it as an “object”, and arbitrarily describing it as “taking advantage of the war with China on the northern border on 17th February, 1979”. These were casual and arbitrary words of those who are used to trumping up people and trampling on human rights. Even more recklessly, they (moles or Communist China’s lackeys) had sanitation trucks parked around Tran Hung Dao Monument to deter people from coming to pay tribute to the fallen, not to mention the unpleasant smell coming from them. To make matters worse, a crane was used to move the incense burner at the foot of the monument to somewhere. That’s it: the divine place where patriots can come and burn incense to pay homage to the great national hero is gone. Is it true that they burned with intense hatred for Tran Hung Dao, a great Vietnamese general who beat their ancestors to a pulp more than seven hundred years ago ?
This is an act of gross impertinence to forefathers which is to be cursed by generations to come. Definitely they will be punished by the law of cause and effect – karma. Name list of those who committed crimes to the people, God, Buddha, and Saints, documented by civil society groups, is getting longer and longer.
Since 2011, all activities in memory of soldiers killed in the anti-China war have been organized annually. Three times a year, commemorative services are maintained on the occasion of 19th January (the Paracels taken over by China), 17th February (northern Sino-Vietnamese conflict), and 14th March (loss of part of the Spratleys).
All of these commemorative activities are harassed and prevented by fair means or foul, among which the 40th anniversary of the Chinese invasion of Vietnam in 1979 is the most intense.
Why are commemorative activities banned? Why are citizens not allowed to honor those who have fallen during the war against foreign aggression- an act reflecting the traditional morality of “drinking the water, remembering the source”?
Why dare the authorities not call China an aggressive enemy?
Worse still, why does the government call those who condemn the enemy anti-revolutionaries? Why are they followed, prevented from speaking up, and referred to as “objects” the police have dossiers on? Legally, what have they done wrong?
What is the answer of the Vietnamese Communist Party to this question?
The more patriotism is forbidden, the more doubtful the people are about their loyalty to Fatherland.
Never have they asked why the Vietnamese people share an intense hatred for China, not France and the U.S. Even the once-infamous Pol Pot regime in Cambodia is no longer on the masses’ mind.
The reason is that China’s ambition to invade Vietnam remains unchanged. They have always eyed the small neighboring country to the south, waiting for an opportunity to annex the remaining part of the Vietnamese territory, and being poised to assimilate the Vietnamese people. The preferred means being foul play, they use all ways possible to harm Vietnam via tourism, commerce, and most frighteningly, they have planted a great many moles in the administrative workings in Vietnam. This is not a figment of imagination of the masses, but an explosive disclosure of ex-Major General Truong Giang Long, once Director of Politics Institute of Public Security.
The Vietnamese Communist Party may be grateful to China for its support to win the wars against the French colonialists, the U.S., and the fellow-countrymen in South Vietnam, but they are to be clear about this. They are not supposed to mortgage ancestors’ land to repay favors. On the Vietnamese people’s part, there is no point being grateful to the Chinese aggressors. Why do the Vietnamese people have to be grateful to the Chinese while it was the Vietnamese Communist Party that received their favors? Had China not intervened in Vietnam’s internal affairs, then this country and and its people would be different now. The Vietnamese feel nothing but bitter hatred toward the Chinese. Keeping in mind the crimes China committed in Vietnam is not to again stir up hatred and incite hostility, but to remind one another to be on the alert. The Vietnamese people can tell the difference between the aggressive leadership in Beijing and the Chinese people.
The Vietnamese are far from being frightened about China, regardless of how some are afraid of them. Had Vietnam been frightened by the bellicose neighboring country, there wouldn’t have been tens of thousands of dead bodies of the Chinese troops on the battlefield in Vietnam 40 years ago. Does Vietnam’s current leadership feel ashamed with regard to Vietnam’s stand against China under Secretary General Le Duan and forefathers’ anti-China’s morale in feudal times?
Never before have the will of the people and that of the authorities been so different like now.
In case Vietnam is again invaded by China, probably they will not dare to resist. There might be some kind of peace agreement reached to nurture the enemy’s territorial ambition, but then certainly nationalistic uprisings will break out. This reflects the morale of Truong Cong Dinh, a 19th century anti-French national hero : “The Court might keep negotiating with the enemy for some peace agreement; on my part, I’ll do what I’m supposed to, though. I would rather bear tremendous guilt towards the Court than sit still, watching the eventual fall of the country.”

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