In 1968 America was convulsed by the nightmare of the Vietnam war. Public
opinion worldwide was stunned by the accounts of human rights violations
taking place in South Vietnam: the detention of thousands of citizens
without charge, trial or legal defense. The world "peace movement" responded with a major campaign on behalf of the victims. At the same time, however, in North Vietnam, political opponents of the regime were being confined in "reeducation" camps. Unfortunately, unlike political prisoners detained in the South, detainees under the government in the North were denied access to the Western press. With the exception of a few individuals adopted by Amnesty International, they received no attention from the world community.
The Provisional Revolutionary Government (PRG) and the "peace movement" gave assurances that when the war ended the barbarities against the Vietnamese political dissenters would be halted, and the misery and the suffering of all Vietnamese would cease. Formal efforts to ensure this end began seven years before the conclusion of the war.
The "Vietnamese Alliance of National, Democratic and Peace Forces," which represented the National Liberation Front (NLF), a coalition of anti-war Southern "nationalists," met in July, 1968, to formulate a "Political Program," which was published in the Vietnam Courier on September 2, 1968. Widely distributed by representatives of the international "peace movement," the Program had several objectives, one of which was to persuade the world community that, at the war's end, the civil and political rights of the Vietnamese people would be honored, all citizens being equal and free to enjoy authentic democratic freedoms. These promises were formalized in Article 11 of the 1973 Paris Agreement on Vietnam, signed by the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, the Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam, the United States, and the Republic of Vietnam. Sadly, however, the pledge was not kept.
In the spirit of the concern voiced over South Vietnamese human rights violations by so many groups twenty-one years ago, the Aurora Foundation has extensively researched the post-1975 human rights situation in Vietnam, As alluded to above, this research documents the fact that the promises of Article 11 of the 1973 Paris Agreements have been broken. The treatment that the Vietnamese people have received from their government violates (1) the promises made in the NLFs "Political Program" of July 1968, (2) the International Law that forbids any country to imprison citizens for a "crime" that was not a crime at the time of alledged perpetration, (3) the tenets of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, (4) the Provisions of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenants of Civil and Political Rights.
The brutalities in Vietnam against real or perceived political opponents have continued to the present day. Since the war's end on April 30, 1975, one million Vietnamese have been subjected to internment in "re-education" camps for periods ranging from three months to fourteen years. With few exceptions, these prisoners were detained without charge, trial, or protection from criminal abuses by the guards.
In addition, the ethnic Chinese of Vietnam and others have been forced out in a mass exodus; these refugees have become all too well known as teh "Boat People". Over 71,377 "Boat People" have arrived in first asylum countries in the last three years alone.