Open Letter
from a Vietnamese in Franken/Bavaria
Fürth, 12. October, 1996
Dear ladies and gentlemen,

speaking of Vietnam you will immediately think of the country, where the inhabitants lead a war for thirty years against France and the U.S.A or lately you will think of the smuggling of cicarettes in Berlin. But for sure it is hardly objective to see the subject so simplified. It is quite astonishing that at the moment there are about 900 Vietnamese living in Fürth and almost 650 in Nuremberg. In comparison with other foreigners these numbers are relatively small. Besides business life of the Vietnamese isn't very noticeable. Everywhere you will see Chinese restaurants and Turkish shops, but the Vietnamese only have some snack-bars. Beside civil servants for foreign affairs, the police, the social services, the charity organization most people don't know, where Vietnamese come from and how they are living.

Since 1975 the communists have installed their regiment over the whole of Vietnam. Millions of Vietnamese, especially of the south, have left the country. Hundreds of thousands of them have lost their lives on the sea or they where violated or killed by pirates from Thailand. The others were lucky. They were salvaged by the help of the ships of Cape Anamur and brought to Germany. These people got the right of asylum and were integrated into the German society. Most of other Vietnamese are comming from Eastern European countries, the others directly from Vietnam. It is necessary to repeat that in the war against the Americans Vietnam was the representative of the socialist block against the imperialist block. Vietnam got help from all the communist states in Eastern Europe, e.g. rockets, tanks, heavy weapons from the Soviet Union, mines and explosive charges from Czechoslovakia... After 1975 Vietnam got into an economic crisis and had to pay back the debts to the brothers in the Eastern European countries at the same time.

The Vietnamese goverment solved these problems by exporting workers to Eastern Europe. In 1990 there were 37 000 Vietnamese employees in Czechoslovakia, 57 000 in the DDR, 35 000 in Bulgaria and 97 000 in the Soviet Union.

In reality these "cooperation" workers were treated like slaves. The "friendship" between the socialist "brother" countries was criminal. The Vietnamese only got heavy work and were daily called as numbers instead of personal names by the foremen (e.g. 30 Vietnamese women workers in canning factory in Czechoslovakia). It worked like this: Come here number 4, number 13 must work more quickly...

This picture looked like in prison. When we arrived at the Airport in Prag they put us a piece of metal with a number on it round our necks. Persons of the Vietnamese Embassy explained to us that this was a scientific working method. But we then realized afterwards that it was the first act of discrimnation. Wages of Vietnamese were double taxable, once for the goverment of Vietnam and secondly for the local government. In 1989 the communist regiment in Eastern Europe was overthrown.

The seed of race discrimination which had been hidden for a long time broke out. The Vietnamese were made responsible for producing defective goods. They were chased and beaten by sinheads at bus stations, in streets and even in hostels. The police don't do anything against it, some even secretly support Vietnamese-discrimination's-activities. 17. March, 1991 in Krasna Boliana Sophia (the capitol of Bulgaria) 100 policemen stormed in the housing area of Vietnamese. The flats were searched, robbed and distroyed. In the following fight policemen with machine guns killed two Vietnamese, more then 10 Vietnamese were wounded. The Embassies of Vietnam were more busy with smuggle then with defending Vietnamese citizens. The fall of the wall in Berlin was the opportunity of finding asylum for thousands of Vietnamese from Eastern Europe. Most of the requests for asylum have been refused up to now, although many of them have taken part in activities against the communist regiment of Vietnam in Eastern Europe and in Germany.

For 4 years many Vietnamese people have practised a job, their children go to school, but they don't get any rights to stay here. Nobody has a permanent working permission, toleration is prolonged only for one to three months. Those who haven't completely prepared the documents for their return to Vietnam will be punished: their toleration will not be prolonged, their working permission will be withdrawn, their poor relief will be stopped. Many people haven`t got any support of the social services for nine months. The Vietnamese are living in an anxious situation, because they can be deported at any time after ratification of the deportation treaty between the Vietnamese and the German government.

In reality the wishes of the people seeking asylum coming from Eastern Europe for their present living conition aren't very great, e.g. if they wash up in restaurants or they work for cleaning firms they are more than content with it. But it is not easy to get such jobs. People don't understand that very much. The Vietnamese are living very drawn back because of their language difficulties. They are even rarely seen in the streets, for people often compare them with cicarettes dealers in Berlin.

Probably the first German who really knows the Vietnamese and understands their problems is Heinz Kamm (Ackerstr. 10 /90443 Nürnberg/ Tel:0911 4287 99 Fax: 0911 41 80 489). He has invested a lot of time and his own money in order
to bring Germans and Vietnamese closer together in understanding.
All Vietnamese in Fürth and Nuremberg have the same wish to be treated correctly and not to be looked at like the little number of cigarette-mafia in Berlin. Those criminals should be sentenced by judgement and the honest people should be supported. Probably many Vietnamese are only allowed to stay for 2 or 3 years. Nevertheless they want to live a peaceful life with the support of the people. Even if they will have to return to Vietnam, they would like to have a fine memory of the time in Germany throughout their lives.


Yours sincerely

In the name of all Vietnamese in Fürth, Nuremberg and surroundings

Pham Van Man

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