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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 36, Number 19. 2nd August 1973

Indochina Today — Vietnam Still Fights For Peace

page 9

Indochina Today

Vietnam Still Fights For Peace

Peter Franks reports on discussions between diplomats at the DRV and PRG embassies in Peking and members of the NZUSA delegation to the Peoples Republic of China.

Concentration on the restoration of democratic liberties in South Vietnam, including the release of all political prisoners, is seen by the Vietnamese liberation movement as its most important task at present in its struggle to implement the Paris Peace Agreement on Vietnam.

Diplomats at the embassies of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam told members of the NZUSA delegation to China that President Thieu's call for elections in South Vietnam was just a propaganda hoax designed to fool world public opinion. The Vietnamese diplomats pointed out that under the terms of the Paris Agreement full democratic liberties have to be established throughout South Vietnam before there can be any elections. The Second Secretary of the PRG Embassy said that under present conditions in South Vietnam elections would be as farcical as Nixon's Watergate election.

The PRG's latest move at the Paris talks with the Thieu administration on the political future of South Vietnam was its July 18th plan for an immediate agreement on guaranteeing democratic liberties throughout South Vietnam. The plan sets out the fundamental conditions for guaranteeing democratic liberties and includes guarantees of the right to private property, the right to organise political parties, freedom of the press, freedom of movement between the two zones of South Vietnam and the immediate release of all political prisoners. Consistent with their government's past attitude of trying to sabotage the Paris Agreement, Saigon representatives in Paris refused to discuss the PRG's plan.

The Vietnamese diplomats in Peking saw implementation of the Paris Agreement and the June 13th communique signed by Le Due Tho and Henry Kissinger as being the only way of solving political problems in Vietnam. For that reason the Vietnamese were very pleased to learn that the New Zealand antiwar movement had adopted the policy of 'Strict Implementation of the Peace Agreement'. As the First Secretary of the DRV Embassy put it: "I think our struggle to implement the Peace Agreement will be very hard. Our people are very glad to see we have the support of friends in New Zealand in our struggle, and this support is very great encouragement to us".

In the opinion of the Vietnamese the signing of the Paris Agreement marked a turning point in their struggle to liberate their country. While the Peace Agreement did not mean the total defeat of US Imperialism in Indochina it did mean that the Nixon Administration was greatly weakened in its efforts to turn South Vietnam into a US colony.

Since the signing of the Peace Agreement the US Government and the Saigon administration have done everything in their power to violate its provisions and prevent its implementation. A number of US and Saigon violations of the Agreement were pointed out by the joint DRV - PRG Peace Delegation which visited Australia in May, and were reported in Salient, May 23rd. Further documentation of these violations is contained in a report by Danie McFadden for the American Quaker project NARMIC. McFadden's report is available from the Wellington Committee on Vietnam, Box 534 Wellington.

The Second Secretary of the PRG Embassy emphasised that while his government was determined to resolve South Vietnam's political problems peacefully through implementing the Peace Agreement, the PRG was prepared to resist attempts by the Thieu administration to seize liberated areas of South Vietnam by force. We were particularly interested to see a recent film of life in the liberated areas of the south, which clearly showed that because they had the support of the people throughout South Vietnam, PRG officials were able to move freely from one liberated zone to another.

The Second Secretary also pointed out that the fact that the United States Government pledged in the June 13th communique with the DRV, to finish clearing the mines from North Vietnam, to stop reconnaissance flights over North Vietnam and to reconvene talks on economic aid with the DRV was a clear admission that it had been violating the Paris Peace Agreement. The First Secretary of the DRV Embassy said that the Americans had still not completed clearing the mines and that there had been no progress in the economic talks between Hanoi and Washington. "Many times", he said, "we've stressed that the US Government has a responsibility to contribute to the rehabilitation of Vietnam, and that they can't use these economic talks as a condition for settling other problems".

The diplomats at both embassies stressed that international support for their struggle was extremely important. So far 34 countries have recognised the PRG and have established diplomatic relations at Ambassadorial level. At the beginning of June this year the Ambassadors of 8 countries presented their credentials to the PRG in the liberated zone of South Vietnam thus presenting dramatic proof of the fact that the PRG does control territory in the south.

The Second Secretary of the PRG Embassy confirmed reports that at the International Conference on Vietnam in February the Secretary-General of the United Nations Kurt Waldheim had called on governments recognising the Thieu Administration to recognise the PRG, and that Waldheim had invited the PRG to send a mission to the UN. However pressure from the US and other reactionary governments had forced Waldheim to back down on these proposals.

Officials at both embassies expressed their governments' disappointment at the New Zealand Government's continuing support for Thieu. But they expressed the hope that the New Zealand anti-war movement would be able to persuade the New Zealand Government to take a more realistic attitude towards Vietnam, and to see the need for strict implementation of the Paris Peace Agreement.

When asked what he thought were the priorities of the New Zealand antiwar movement the First Secretary of the DRV Embassy replied (1) Pressure for the implementation of the Peace Agreement. (2) Recognition of the PRG, and (3) Medical and reconstruction aid for Vietnam. The Vietnamese diplomats were particularly interested in the work that has been done in New Zealand on medical aid, and said that continued aid was one of the most important contributions New Zealanders could make to the Vietnamese people's struggle.

Three members of the NZUSA delegation were also able to pay a brief call on the Embassy of the Royal Government of National Union of Cambodia. Like their Vietnamese comrades, the Cambodian diplomats were extremely pleased to learn that they had the support of the New Zealand antiwar movement in their struggle, and they sent a warm message of greetings to their supporters in New Zealand.

Don't Miss

"The Question of Torture in South Vietnam"

This Grenada Documentary exposes the horror of Thieu's prisons, and the repression the South Vietnamese people are still suffering It will be shown on Central Television on Monday 13th August at 10.1 p.m.

Photo of Chinese government holding a vote

After its election by the Congress of people's representatives of South Vietnam in June 1969, the Provisional Revolutionary Government held its first meeting. Presided over by Chairman Huynh Tan Phat the meeting passed a 12-point programme of action that provides the basis for the PRG's present policy In South Vietnam.