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

Who are the P.R.G?

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Who are the P.R.G?

"...the so-called "Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam" is not an independent government. It does not meet the basic legal requirements for a government — namely control of territory and population and ability to carrry out international obligations. It does not even have a capital. It is, in fact, merely another name for the National Liberation Front, which is a political movement in arms against the Government of South Vietnam. "(Norman Kirk, in a letter to Mr Ken Stanton of Porirua, May 10 1973.

Photo of the Vietnamese representatives

Committee on Vietnam representatives with the Vietnamese delegation. From left to right: Mike Law, Le Hai, Peter Franks Nguyen Van Tien, Bruce Robinson, Nguyen Van Chi. Vu Quang Chuyen, Le Duy Van, Rona Bailey and Le Mai.

One of the most misunderstood aspects of the Vietnam war has been the nature of the South Vietnamese opposition to the United States and its many puppet governments in Saigon. Western newspapers have persisted in calling the N.L.F. and then the P.R.G. the "viet cong', and this term has been adopted by right-wing politicians such as Sir Keith Holyoake, Jack Marshall and Norman Kirk.

Liberation Forces 'not all Viet Cong'

But even members of Mr Kirk's cabinet have, in the past, seen through western attempts to distort the true nature of the South Vietnamese Liberation movement. In October 1967 the present Minister of Defence, Arthur Faulkner, reminded Parliament that: "The N.L.F. is not all Viet Cong. It comprises Buddhists and Catholics, Conservatives as well as Communists. Every element that used to be in the Viet Minh is in the N.L.F., and they combine and unite on two things — Vietnam for the Vietnamese and one Vietnam"

The Provisional Revolutionary Government is even more broad based than the National Liberation Front. It was established in June 1969 by the Congress of Representatives of South Vietnam, convened by the N.L.F. and the largely urban based Alliance of National, Democratic and Peace Forces (A.N.D.P.F.).

PRG Administration throughout South Vietnam

The P.R.G. and the Advisory Council of the Republic of South Vietnam, which was also set up in June 1969, includes representatives of many political parties, religious sects and national minorities, as well as the N.L.F. and the A.N.D.P.F. Its administration has been established at all levels of South Vietnamese life, from the smallest village to the national government.

As is explained elsewhere in this issue the P.R.G. follows a policy of building the broadest possible national unity among South Vietnamese people in order to defeat the United States Government's attempts to establish a neo-colony in South Vietnam through its various puppets in Saigon.

Vietnam One Country

The P.R.G. stands for the eventual reunification of Vietnam, and its representatives in the Vietnamese peace delegation that visited Australia stressed that Vietnam was one country. However the P.R.G. and the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in the north, believe that reunification will not take place over night and must be achieved by peaceful means.

Until Vietnam is reunified the P.R.G. is pledged to carry out a strict foreign policy of neutrality. It has been recognised by 38 countries and last year was accepted by the conference of 60 Foreign Ministers of the Non-aligned countries as a full member of the Non-aligned group. Futhermore the fact that the P.R.G. is recognised in the Paris Peace Agreement as an equal party to the Thieu administration shows that it has a substantial claim to be recognised as a government in its own right.

Liberated Zones well Established

Mr Kirk's charges that the P.R.G. does not control territory and population are quite false. Even before the P.R.G. was established the N.L.F. controlled a considerable amount of territory in South Vietnam and had established its own administration in the liberated areas. P.R.G. documents captured by the Americans, which relate to financial administration, show just how well established the P.R.G. is.

When we were in Sydney we asked the P.R.G. delegation why their government had not yet established a capital. The Vietnamese laughed and replied that if they loudly proclaimed a capital in South Vietnam they would just be asking for a massive attack by Thieu's airforce and troops. But just because Mr Kirk can't find the P.R.G.'s capital that does not mean that the P.R.G.'s administration does not exist.

Why Recognise the P.R.G.?

The current demand in New Zealand and Australia for the two Labour Governments to recognise the P.R.G. must be seen in the context of the provisions of the Paris Agreement about the political future of South Vietnam. The political future of South Vietnam will only be worked out peacefully through the cooperation of the two South Vietnamese administrations. Attempts by foreigners, such as Mr Kirk and Mr Whitlam, to support only one of these administrations are in fact no more than attempts to hinder the implementation of the Peace Agreement. As Senator John Wheeldon, Labour Party representative from Western Australia and Chairman of the Joint Parliamentary Committee of Foreign Affairs and Defence, said at a rally in Sydney on Monday, May 14: "It is necessary that there should be a campaign waged at all levels in Australia to see that we fully carry out the principles of the Agreement by establishing full diplomatic relations between this country and the Provisional Revolutionary Government."