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Congressman Tom Davis (Virginia) Hails Passage of Resolution Recognizing the Sacrifices of Those Who Served in the Former Republic of Vietnam's Armed Forces

July 10, 2000

Washington, D.C. -

Congressman Tom Davis (R-VA-11th) today lauded House passage of legislation he authored that honors the courageous Vietnamese men and women who fought alongside American forces during the Vietnam conflict. Davis released the following statement on the bill, House Concurrent Resolution 322:

"I introduced this resolution several months ago to recognize the brave Vietnamese men and women who fought alongside American forces during the Vietnam conflict, and yet were never given the proper recognition. The individuals who served in the Armed Forces of the Republic of Vietnam should be commended for their bravery and courage in the face of severe adversity and hardship.

 

"This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Fall of Saigon to Communist forces. The Armed Forces of the Republic of Vietnam suffered enormous casualties during the Vietnam conflict. From 1961 to 1975, over 750,000 Vietnamese men were wounded and over 250,000 Vietnamese men were killed in action. These brave men made the ultimate sacrifice: they died fighting for freedom and democracy in their homeland.

 

"After the war, the government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam forcibly rounded up intellectuals, political leaders, teachers, poets, artists, religious leaders, and former officers and enlisted personnel of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Vietnam and sent them to re-education camps?"

 

More appropriate term would be? Vietnamese Gulag ?? These camps evoke images akin to the Nazi death camps during World War II. The prisoners, deemed security risks by the Communist regime, were regularly beaten, starved, and tortured. Unfortunately, many did not survive.

 

"I would like to mention some remarkable individuals who survived the Vietnamese Gulag and have personally shared their stories with me. These stories speak of courage, spirit, and the human will to live. These individuals now live in Northern Virginia. Mr. Nguyen Cao Quyen, Mr. Nguyen Van Thanh, Mr. Tran Nhat Kim, Mr. Dinh Anh Thai are all former prisoners of the Vietnamese Gulag. Their crime: they were officers of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Vietnam or worked for the South Vietnamese government.

"Mr. Vu Hoi, an artist - Mr. Nguyen Chi Thien, a poet - and Professor Doan Viet Hoat, all were intellectuals who were imprisoned by the Communist government for expressing their beliefs about democracy. In total, these three men spent over 50 years in the Vietnamese Gulag.

"Finally, I would like to mention Father Nguyen Huu Le and Father Tran Qui Thien who were also imprisoned for many years because they would not use their influence with their parishioners to propagandize Communist ideology.

 

I am proud to represent these courageous individuals and others like them in Virginia's Eleventh District. "Although the current government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam is a signatory to eight international covenants on human rights, it continues to treat members of the former Armed Forces of Vietnam and their families as second-class citizens. The government of Vietnam has established a two-tiered socioeconomic system, reminiscent of the apartheid regime used in South Africa and implemented by the Nazis to isolate Jews in the 1930's.

"A good example is education, which is highly valued in Vietnamese culture and society. Yet relatives of the men who suffered in the Vietnamese Gulag cannot enroll in schools because of a government-endorsed policy of exclusion.

 

Likewise, many relatives of these former prisoners find it difficult to obtain employment for the same reason. The government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam is adding insult to injury to these principled men who endured years of wrongful imprisonment and torture only to have their families continue to suffer today by not having access to jobs, education, and proper medical treatment.

 

"The end of the Vietnam conflict produced an exodus of over 2 million Vietnamese who fled the country, many in rickety boats that were over-crowded and dangerous. They suffered treacherous seas, pirate attacks, dehydration, lack of food and medicine, and risked death rather than live under a Communist regime. Many of these refugees came to the United States where they have resettled, and are now proud Americans.

 

"While the Vietnamese-American Community has been successful in rebuilding their lives here in the United States, they have not forgotten those who fought in the name of freedom. Traditionally, the former Republic of South Vietnam and presently in Vietnamese-American communities all across America, June 19th represents a day to commemorate and honor both fallen and living heroes who have dedicated or are continuing to dedicate their lives to bringing international attention to freedom and the human rights situation in Vietnam. It is a day on which the community memorializes those who gave their lives and recognizes former prisoners of conscience for their commitment and sacrifice in the struggle for democracy and freedom.

 

"This is why on Vietnam Human Rights Day, I introduced, H.Con.Res. 322, a resolution honoring the sacrifices of individuals who served in the Armed Forces of the former Republic of Vietnam. As an original sponsor of the Congressional Dialogue on Vietnam and the Adopt-A-Voice-of-Conscience program, it is not only my honor, but my privilege to have introduced this resolution on behalf of all Vietnamese-Americans - especially, the tens of thousands living in Northern Virginia. We must never forget the sacrifices that the members of Armed Forces of the Republic of Vietnam made so that future generations may live in freedom. "I am overjoyed that my colleagues supported this important resolution today, because it reaffirms Congress' commitment to Vietnamese-Americans and others whose work helps to keep the spirit of freedom alive for those still living in Vietnam. It is my strongest hope that the citizens of Vietnam will one day be free, free to elect their own leaders and government, free to worship as they please, free to speak and print their own opinions without fear of persecution or harassment, and simply free to live their lives without government intrusion".

 

"This is the will of democracy and the Vietnamese people."