Articles in English

Haiti and Vietnam… any similarity?

(Please click here for the Vietnamese version) After more than a year of not being able to plan any activities due to the pandemic, on October 2, 2021, VietRISE and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON ) jointly organized … Continue reading 

Viet Le- The Verbs

In Response to “Revisiting Concepts of Asian Male Stereotypes of Late 20th and Early 21st Century U.S. American Film and its Effects on Contemporary Asian American Experiences“ The last word on representation.  I’d promised myself I’d not write about this … Continue reading 

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Revisiting Concepts of Asian Male Stereotypes of Late 20th and Early 21st Century U.S. American Film and its Effects on Contemporary Asian American Experiences

Author: Long Ton “You know what I want to think of myself? As a human being. Because, I mean, I don’t want to sound like as Confucius say, but under the sky, under the heavens there is but one family. … Continue reading 

Racism–Will We Ever Learn?

Please click here for the Vietnamese version of this article. Written by Phuong Vo (Võ Minh Phượng) On March 20, 2021, with several others, I attended a protest against Asian-American discrimination, after a white man slaughtered 8 people (six were … Continue reading 

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A Letter to Vietnamese Trump Supporters at the Insurrection

Click the link above for the entire article.

English version, written/translated by Phuong Vo on January 11th, 2021

I Feel for You, Donald

(An Open Letter After Reading ‘Too Much and Never Enough’ by Mary L. Trump) Lời giới thiệu: Cách đây không lâu, chúng tôi có giới thiệu bài viết của một thân hữu có tựa đề “Nghĩ Thấy Thương Ông Donald” … Continue reading 

The Clown Show- By Viet Le

Originally written on April 15, 2015 Note: This was Viet’s response after learning from me about the enthusiastic and passionate cries of some Vietnamese Americans in the “Black April” planning committee, insisting that on the 40th anniversary, we must sing … Continue reading 

Breathe / Thở

by Dr. Dzung in Vancouver, Canada Note: This poem was composed by Dzung, a doctor specializing in pediatrics. Dr Dzung was born in the US but has immigrated to Canada for about 10 years. Chú thích: Bài thơ Thở, tiếng … Continue reading 

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Since April, millions of dead fish have been washing up on Vietnam’s shores. Photo credit: Jennifer Carole

How Do You clean the poisoned sea?

How to get rid of mercury?  (and Lead, cadmium, arsenic, cyanide, etc……)

My people  want transparency!

“Who will take responsibility?”

by  Phuong Vo (Minh Phuong)

Thank You UCLA(VSA)-Black April Event

For decades, I silently observed, and whenever possible, along with my children, participated in various commemorative events organized by Vietnamese communities in Southern Cali, during the “Black April”. This year there were some notable changes on the delivery messages, as some key note speakers started to articulate quite clearly that we have paid a very high price for “freedom in America”: by the whole South Vietnam being betrayed by our allies. In my humble opinion, however, the Black April commemorative event organized by Vietnamese Student Association (VSA) of  UCLA students stood out as the most remarkable since it was carried out quite thoughtfully, solemnly. The students sincerely expressed their desire to understand and empathize with their parents’ history and experiences: their parents- as refugees- who-had to leave their beloved country to live in exile, at all cost.

Along with my son, Viet, I had the distinct honor and pleasure to attend the aforementioned event at UCLA, as one of the four panelists. Viet had the opportunity to express his opinion regarding Black April, representing the younger  generation Vietnamese American, and I was invited to share my experiences regarding the days  prior to and after April 30, 1975. The student organizers did an excellent job portraying their appreciation for their parents and those who sacrificed themselves in the quest for freedom. And I was truly glad and inspired after the meeting, silently thanking the students who lighted up a torch of hope for a healthy, uplifting Vietnamese community with their positive engagement, establishing the face of the new generation Vietnamese Americans who were born and raised here.

What made me so enthralled?

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First and foremost: in dignified, well poised  mannerism, they expressed their opinions and ideals very sincerely, with much depth. No cliches, repeating what we’ve often heard in our communities over the past four decades. And to hear them sing the  South Vietnamese National Anthem!  I have saluted my old country’s flag while singing our national anthem many times before, solemnly, wholeheartedly, but the manner in which they sang the national anthem of South Vietnam that day brought tears in my eyes: They had harmonized the anthem most beautifully, expertly. Every note, every word was delivered with uttermost perfection. Without any accompanying musical instruments, they had rendered the most hauntingly beautiful performance, the best I have ever had listened to.

Additionally, they expressed their own concerns, growing up with stories about a free, beautiful, gentle South Vietnam that was sentenced to die, about the tear-drenched,  suddenly overturned existences of their parents and grandparents….

Complete attention rendered at this event, whose purpose was to reminisce and commemorate the memories of a  horrific past by the older Vietnamese American generations,  was accompanied by the students’ sincere, respectful American friends.  There, they shed an intense, candid light to their inner struggle and thoughts:  how the US government’s foreign policy portrayed the injustice and cruel betrayals to their allies. While the panelists spoke and shared their experiences, the hall full of attendees was completely, respectfully silent, signifying a mature, serious audience.

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The lyrics of the very few selected songs for this special event were quite meaningful, profound. They represented the students’ restlessness and deep reflections,  sentiments, and performed with amazing solemnity and  virtuosity.

They made it clear: though they might not be able to fully comprehend all the pain we suffered, they are still proud of their Vietnamese heritage, and would like to maintain and build their identities within the community and preserving the humanistic, heroic, indomitable traits that were embedded  in the old Vietnamese culture, no matter  where they live.

A current student, Jay Nguyen composed and recited the following poem, echoing his dreams, anguish and insights:

“Này Công Dân ơi! Đứng lên đáp lời sông núi.
Đồng lòng cùng đi hy sinh tiếc gì thân sống…”
Words that echo through corridors of my body like wildfire.
Burning a passion of an enigma… foreign to an unbeknownst, innocent Vietnamese-American kid.

Just what did it mean to be called Vietnamese, to be called South-Vietnamese?

Words that pulsed through every heartbeat of my mother, whose beautiful Saigon, ripped from every root of the ground before it even knew the light of the world.
Gone in an instant, like ashes blown away into an abysmal black hole.

Just what did it mean to be part of South Vietnam?

Words… that kept phantom roots in place and hope alive. Words that offered light in the dark creating shadows of a nation that would see their dreams.
Words that kept a culture strong and alive.
Words… that fell at the feet of my grandparents as war burned 3 stripes to the ground.
Every flag being stripped down from boats that sailed across the vast ocean whose salty waters held hopes of a “better life in America.”
No. They never wanted to leave.
No. They never asked for any of this.
No. Everyday a dream.
No. It is their reality.
No. It is part of MY reality.
I am part of a great nation–that fell to the ground when its flag was leveled down to the dirt, reduced to nothing. Words that are intertwined into the DNA of South-Vietnamese everywhere. To those who lost their homes, families, and country… remember these words. Remember our Flag Bannered high above our heads.

Jay Nguyen_UCLÁ*

Their attention to details in organizing this important event respectfully is clear: the majority of the students  wore black or white that day. Each table, covered with black cloth, had a vase of fresh flower, surrounded with lots of yellow rose petals, and sprinkled with red rose petals, the color of the South Vietnamese flag. Even the gifts for the panelists (myself included), consisting of a black T-shirt and a handwritten thank you card were presented in a black gift bag. There was also a section showcasing black/white images about VN war, the fight against the enemy by  the South VN, the evacuation in 1975,  the boat people, and the horrific torture, forced labor and evil, degenerative revenges the VC inflicted upon their labor prisoners, the former South VN officers, many of whom died in these so called “re-education” camps. IMG_3823 (1024x768)

The event ended with a candlelight ceremony, commemorating the Black April. The students invited everyone to make a circle and those who had been refugees to voluntarily share their individual experiences living in exile.  Then, all the light switches in the room were turned off, so that the flickering candles could light up the audience’s collective sincere, serious faces, praying silently for those who have sacrificed for freedom, and for a new Vietnam with freedom, democracy and justice.

From the bottom of my heart, I would like to thank the UCLA students for organizing the Black April, commemorating the day of national grief, with uncommon, inspiring sincerity. You have helped restoring confidence, and hope for those who had been once political refugees, who had to leave with deep wounds and broken hearts- who, even now, still cannot rest peacefully thinking of their old country .

IMG_3825 (1024x768)Phuong Minh Vo

*About  Jay Nguyen:

  • My name is Jay Khanh Nguyen. I was born in San Diego but grew up and raised in Austin, TX. I am a first-generation Vietnamese-American and am currently attending the University of California, Los Angeles. I remember my mom never being home, working countless hours to meet ends for my older brother and I. She nor my grandma (who took care of my brother and I) never spoke about their home country, Vietnam. I never knew about my history, I grew up American. In high school, I joined THIẾU NHI THÁNH THỂ (TNTT) and started to learn more about my roots and became more interested in history. I remember watching a documentary: Last Days in Vietnam; and the last scene of that movie hit me. It was a scene of an escaping boat having to lower the South Vietnamese flag in order to enter the Philippines.
    My motivation to succeed is driven by my mom who actually did not escape the country because she was one of the less fortunate to do so. She was young, a girl, and had little money. This is the story some do not recognize because of so many Vietnamese escaping to America–they forget about those who could not. She later could come to America with my grandma years after the communist regime. As my mom’s son, her struggle in Vietnam and America motivate me to write and have her live a comfortable life.

Please click here for the original post in Vietnamese

Regarding the Title “Terror in LittleSaigon”

To Frontline ProPublica and Mr. Thomson

The film “Terror in Little Saigon” has stirred up many doubts, discussions and commentary in the Vietnamese community overseas since its release, reporting about the deaths of five Vietnam journalists in the early 1980s . Numerous organizations have been discussing, speculating about the motive and forces behind this whole documentary. In this article, as a greatly concerned Vietnamese American citizen who have lived in the US since 1975, I just want to bring up two issues that necessitated an insightful, careful analysis:

  1. The exploitation of American audience’s curiosity by the filmmakers when they use the title “Terror in Little Saigon” and especially,
  2. The “wonder” as to  why the former Vietnamese refugees still feel the pain, the anger regarding the loss of their country in 1975, why we can not forget the yellow flag with three red stripes, and the inference to why we “nourished” and supported these anti-communist movements in the 80s, to the point of turning a blind eye to the deaths mentioned in the film(?!)

Regarding the first issue, it would be difficult to convince us that you did not intentionally try to link the murders of five journalist killed in the ’80s with millions of Vietnamese refugees, portraying, branding that period collectively as a time of instilling horror, terror, through the video clips of former South Vietnamese soldiers, saluting solemnly the yellow flag that has represented the Vietnamese diaspora all over the world for the past forty years.

The title alone indicated the willful abuse and exploitation of the audience’s curiosity, without any concern for accuracy: there was no “Little Saigon” in the 80s! The general, average American audience with limited knowledge, if any, about the implications, and plights of political refugees after the Vietnam War, would be easily manipulated into believing that all organizations and associations honoring the yellow flag of South Vietnam, had ties with what they saw in the film as “horror” in Little Saigon!

The Vietnamese Community has never organized, plotted bombs, killing innocent American people in their daily lives or attacked public buildings. Thus the killings of these five journalists were never considered “terrorists’ acts” in the eyes of law enforcement agencies in the United States. The title of the film exploited the curiosity of the American audience and that’s it. The authorities who worked on these cases only regarded them as murder cases  resulting from conflicts of interests between “colored” gang members extorting, killing each other . To them, we were merely non-white newcomers without any power or influence of any kind, and we certainly posed no threat to the mainstream American society.

As for the second issue, in my humble opinion, it is past due time for us to speak out, so the American people can understand this important fact: “ that the majority of us had departed from our homeland with bleeding, broken hearts, swallowing bitterness and homesickness, so that we could live with our conscience, with the truth, with the idealistic vision of freedom and basic human rights. We did not give up the place that held our precious memories since childhood, our roots, our language, culture, our familial ties to get a  life deemed “better”materialistically. We had to leave because we could not live with the cruel, cunning, phony regime that betrayed and enslaved our country to the Communist Ideology. Yet we did not want to live in exile forever. Many of us, even now, still look back to our homeland poignantly since our ancestor’s morals, ideals and humanity have been demolished, adulterated beyond comprehension. And yes, as futile as it seems, we still wish to do something to help eradicate the brutal, corrupt filth that has plagued Vietnam entirely since the end of the war.

And thus, it is ignorant at best,and downright cruel at worst, to criticize, question, ridicule and especially vilify us, when we express our views, concerns and commemorating our collective anguish.

After more than 40 years, there have been anti-Communist Vietnam groups, demonstrating their fight for liberty loudly, consistently. There are also more discreet, unveiled small groups/organizations and individuals fighting quietly, passionately. Additionally, many people have silently sacrificed, suffered, and disappeared under unknown graves, in their quest for freedom in Vietnam. The desire for a brighter day in VN, and the return to our homeland in a truly just, prosperous, democratic society, have been and will forever be a dream, however unattainable,  for the majority of Vietnamese overseas who came here as political refugees. Truth be told, before 1975, how many Vietnamese would want to leave our beloved country and live in exile?

It is only natural, therefore, that we speak up against cruelty, inhumanity, corruption, treacherous and treasonous acts of the current Vietnamese  rulers. And thus there is no need to apologize to anyone, or to be ashamed of. Some have expressed their resentment with  inspiring songs, fueling slogans, while waving proudly the yellow flag. Some just quietly reflected their thoughts in poems, essays, in their daily interactions with the mainstream community. Whatever means of expression and however effective/ineffective they might have been, these actions should be regarded as perfectly natural: like plants needing light, nutrients from the earth, and water. The murders that resulted from people having opposing political interests- deduced, inferred in this documentary- were carried out by the Front. If that is the case, the culprit must be brought to justice and I believe that is only natural and just. But why do you have to link, equating “the Front” with all of the Vietnamese community overseas who have remained undaunted in instilling the desire for freedom to the Vietnamese  in their beloved country?

The fact that “The Front” was rather murky in its financial accounts- money it collected from supporters- as well as in the number of members who actually went to fight in Thailand, not VN, is old news. Tragically, it was the journalists, like Dam Phong, who criticized  the “Front” and were killed for voicing their concerns. For whatever reason, the FBI could not identify the killers. But it would  make sense to assume that the culprits were not those who trusted and donated  their hard earned money to the “Front”, especially when they started to doubt, resent, and/or get depressed because their love for the country was exploited, and abused.

There were questions, doubts among the Vietnamese community that went unanswered when the journalists were killed . The failure to bring forth the criminals and eventual closure of the cases caused a lot of discontentment and sorrow among people in the community, not just families of the victims. Thus, the “perceived” connection of the “Front” to the Vietnamese community, accidental or deliberate, demonstrated ignorance, contempt, and injustice to the anti-communist Vietnamese. Although Mr Thomson later apologized to the Vietnamese community, but the film was already screened nationwide. The body languages spoke volume as seen in the interview with Ms. Claudia Kolker . Her facial expressions, her tone, her gestures… portrayed the disdain, and horror (at what is only natural to us) : the homesickness and longing for the old country is regarded as non-sensible, and insignificant, to the larger American society (?!).
This film, thus, has not only provoked the Vietnamese community but also aggravated the prejudice, the discrimination against the Vietnamese, especially those who do not speak fluent English in Little Saigon/ Bolsa, resulting in increasing criticism, libel that Vietnamese engage in “ridiculous” things, “evidenced” by their continued practices of  raising and saluting the  yellow flag in Vietnamese public ceremonies!

With the full knowledge that our efforts might be fruitless, we are still trying to find a new direction for ourselves.  We have persisted in our unifying assistance efforts to the current Vietnamese citizens, who wish to fight for justice, freedom and democracy in Vietnam, the values well understood and enjoyed by Americans. And we will keep doing so perhaps until our last day on earth. We understand that our voices and wishes have never been seriously taken into consideration by those making decisions in US foreign policies. We thoroughly recognize that Communist Vietnam’s rulers, having the power, guns, money will have much more advantages over all of the groups of Freedom loving Vietnamese diaspora globally combined. And thus, not just a year, a decade, or a century, but the remaining lifetime, we will not forget.

Whether any “light” will be shed from this “investigation documentary”, or the true intentions of the A.C Thomson and the film’s funding organization would ever be revealed, the documentary has been very successful in one aspect: it has caught the attention of many Americans. If not outwardly condemning and judging, the inevitable perception from the audience have been reported to be shocking, or wryly curious about why the Vietnamese community still clutch at the old flag, preserving our memories about the Southern Republic of Vietnam which, in their mind, had died more than 40 years ago .

Ascription, deliberately linked through “terrorism proof” of the “deviant thinking, extremist” by overseas Vietnamese are weaved into the passages in the film showing how the yellow flag with three red stripes were solemnly saluted in random community ceremonies by various organizations in commemorations such as 30/4 or our traditional celebration of Tet, etc ..

The Vietnamese Refugee Community from South VN had lost everything after the war . A war that was severely, unfairly assessed, vilified and then crucified at the end. Hundreds of thousands of people died on their journey for freedom in the sea, in “reeducation camps”. The pain, the indignity, the humiliation and the immense loss inflicted upon us were so deep and raw that nothing can truly erase all those horrific memories. This was especially the case in the 80s, when many of us had come to realize how our country was sentenced into evil darkness, resulting in so many deaths and broken lives. Yet we swallowed the bitter tears, and overcame all hardships, while slowly reestablishing a new direction, new lives amid extremely difficult physical, psychological and mental conditions in a country still plagued with discrimination. As evidenced by the unrelated clips forcibly weaved together in this film, this is the image you would like to paint about our community?

And therefore, I must question the honesty, integrity, and the  professional responsibility of FRONTLINE and ProPublica in your effort of researching and presenting the “contents” in this film.
Phuong Vo

Viet Le’s Response to “Terror in Little Saigon”

To the producers of “Terror in Little Saigon”:

I felt compelled to write to you regarding your film to share my thoughts as a second generation Vietnamese American whose mother came to the states after the war in 1975 as a teenager and- more importantly- a political refugee. Her lifelong story, like many others in the Vietnamese community, consists of broken dreams, of intense love for the country she lost and above all, the lingering hope that somehow, someday, she’d get to return and help repair her long-lost country.

I take umbrage with the editorial decision to title your production “Terror in Little Saigon”. I understand that such a story is a hard sell to an audience that ultimately could not care less about the plight of Vietnamese-Americans, but it stands to reason that such stories ought to stand on their own merits as opposed to association with the current, exigent war on terror – a connection which is tenuous at best and wholly deceptive at worst.

I understand that long-form journalism in the present time is a difficult sell and I can empathize with the need to pay the bills, however I do feel a need to take issue with a few more things as presented in the report.

First and foremost: the tone. There is a sense of wonder, discovery, fascination, blithe and pure that is taken with detailing the passion of the Vietnamese-American community. More than any slander against the community itself, it is the fact that this condition of homesickness – presented in association with violence – is presented as  that which is alien and undesirable to larger society: as deviant.

To larger society, yes, this passion is deviant. The dominant narrative presents one in which the immigrant possesses no love greater than that of America. Vietnamese- Americans have traditionally subverted that expectation. But rather than explore the ramifications, motivations, humanity of that divergence, the producers have instead decided to present it in association with base barbarity.

You might understand why this has upset more than a few people.

I feel of course compelled to respond to this sneering supposition, this re-assertion of the necessity of the compliant, grateful immigrant narrative as presented in questions such as “why do Vietnamese-Americans still hurt of a lost country?”, “Why can they not let go of an old flag?”, “How could these nominal “model minorities” give host to a bevy of anti-communist movements?”, “Why can’t they let go?”, “Why can’t they be happy?, “Why won’t they be ‘model’?”

I respond by saying that when one shatters a country – one which one had never had any regard for – then picks up the remnants in flotsam and jetsam and asks them why they long for their home, I respond by saying that words do not exist for loss that defies the capacity of words to express them.

And notably -thoroughly absent throughout the entirety of the report is any rumination on the nature of love. Love is the only condition that would make sense of any of the occurrences as depicted in the report, but it is thoroughly absent because the very idea of there being a non-American national love is so thoroughly anathema to American narratives of “city upon a hill” that it must be dismissed out-of-hand as criminal, deviant, and unsavory.

It is none of these things.

More than anything, the Vietnamese diaspora of the late 70s and early 80s was awash in expressions of love. Love of a country lost, love that hung pining atop a drifting memory, fantasies and dreams in fish sauce bottles and hung atop the lips of stories exchanged between families. That love buoyed the community up and siphoned its money into charlatans and hucksters who took advantage of the scarcely-cogent grief of a community, of the castaways of the consequences of American foreign policy, of people who felt something in obscurity that Americans never once felt for the freedom they were supposed to be defending: a love for somewhere other than America.

Love transforms the narrative present in the film from criminal deviance into criminal tragedy. The murderers and victims are joined in their mutual affection and loyalty to the dream of a re-liberated Vietnam. Their disagreement – ended in bullets – were in the details and ended in murder, but they were connected by a now-flagging but still-present heartbeat of the Vietnamese-American community that more than anything, more than any other immigrant group in America, just wants to go home.

How can you understand their struggles, their crimes, their community, when you can not even understand their love? And how great that love moved them when that love was lost, as limbs hacked wholesale from them. And every bitter stab of a know-nothing friend who ever uttered the words, “why won’t you stop dreaming, of ever going home?”

And that’s what the issue at large is.

Viet Le

Memories with Teachers….

Memories with Teachers!
good old times… still stirs
through changes, hardship
their voices still linger…

baring storms,  losses
thankful still to God
for teachers who taught
with love, that period …

the gift of teaching
brought warmth… far reaching
render calming peace
even through breaching

Your hair’s become gray…
wishing in your days:
Find joy, serene peace
with full health, always.

Ride The Thunder 2- By Viet Le

Last Tuesday I had the marvelous opportunity to witness the rarest of sights: a show the likes of which you have never before seen in your life. I’m sure many of you have heard of it. It was called – and this is entirely from memory – Ride the Thunder.

Now I know many of you have already seen the film. I only saw it because of your glowing reviews. But I was amazed to discover that – unlike what many of you said – this was not in fact a movie about a white American’s account of what happened in Vietnam.

Oh no no.

This was in fact a horror film!

I mean, within the first few opening scenes I was treated to the gory spectacle of a white man wearing the hollowed-out skin of a Vietnamese man working his mouth like a sack puppet pretending as though he were in Vietnam. Surely this can be the only explanation as to why – although the movie purported to be set in Vietnam, everybody spoke in English!

Enthralled, I kept watching. And to my delight I was happy to discover that this alchemical puppetry not only continued on from the first scene, but was actually a meta-commentary upon the whole of the film itself!

You see – as the creators of Ride the Thunder probably intended  to do – faced with the terribly inconvenient body of experience and suffering and loss that the Vietnamese population endured during the Vietnam war, they decided to polish the heroism and tenure of American GIs the only way they knew how: by erasing all experiences of Vietnamese people from the film.

And all the better for it too because if they hadn’t, I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy this lovely concoction of a sock puppet movie.

But what was most remarkable was that in the immediate aftermath of the film, many of the people I spoke to didn’t seem to have noticed that the men, the stories, the soul of Vietnamese existance had been hollowed out and propped up upon a white hand.  They said, “I really enjoyed the movie!” “Finally, a story I recognize!” “That’s exactly how I remember that time to be!” said a woman to her husband in Vietnamese.

Confused, I wandered out of the theater and into the dry Southern California air. I watched them as they ambled back to their American-flag bedecked cars, drove off into sunset, and left me behind in their dust wondering how it was that they had missed something so obvious.

April 30th 1975 -and the Vietnamese Diaspora …

Each April , the last hours of former South Vietnam and subsequent tragedies after April 30 th, 1975, vividly return and are replayed over and over in our minds . We reflect upon the past and contrast  to the current condition/ situations: Remembering countless painful separations , the ultimate losses , how our relatives were tortured physically, emotionally, psychologically and mentally in forced labor camps all over the country, along with boat people who were robbed , raped , and killed while crossing the treacherous seas in search for freedom ; remembering how our beloved, deceased relatives’ tombs were excavated from the cemetery and realizing, from fully documented, the brutal situation of present VN with downhill moral values , catastrophically corrupted failures,  few of us would  be able to carry on without feeling the recurring brutal pain, choking back the tears and controlling our anguished heart…

If one could just focus on prosperity , diplomas, fame, materialistic success gained from a new life , perhaps he/she would not have agonized as much … but once labeled as a ” political refugee” , he/she would most likely sigh in deep reflection at the thought of April 30th, 1975! That infamous day when south VN, a country endowed with  men bravely sacrificing for their motherland, with young widows giving up their own happiness to raise their small children, was abandoned, forced into immense misery and eternal desolation….

After nearly four decades , the people on” the winning side ” has been very successful in ” thought reforming ” , converting South  VN into a place where integrity and honor are now abstract luxuries that are on the verge of extinction among the “scholars and intellectuals “. Societal degradation, pervasive corruption, and morals have been turned upside down. The people feeling disgusted at, and mistrusting, their government beyond repair … Next to millions of  hungry, mournful people , lie brazen rulers,  enjoy extravagant brandishing with money from selling parts of the country to Communist China, exporting people as goods and downright robing millions of landless farmers, destitute peasants .

The agonizing question for nearly 40 years for many expatriates” What should we do to contribute to the movement for democracy for VN ?” , has probably been the headline/subject of public press conferences, open and closed forums/ meetings by Vietnamese people all over the world . Truth be told, however, the quest for human rights, justice, democratic freedom can not legally come from the Diaspora . We can only provide mental support to those in Vietnam who are fighting for and demanding their basic human rights and freedom. Only people in Vietnam are qualified to voice, from the heart, their yearning resulted from their firsthand experience of continuous sufferings …. When we left the country, some of us looked back to our homeland, hoping, pledging that we would do something to save our beloved motherland from the fatalistic curse of communism, so we wouldn’t feel guilty seeking freedom. However, that dream has been increasingly evolved, with mundane activities and necessary duties to be performed in everyday life, with the limitations of distant geography, and our own changing political powers, changing residency status,  pushing it farther and farther away as the years went by.

The Vietnamese overseas- perhaps more than ever- need to have discernment about their stance on the current international scene. These super powers have had and will continue to control the outcome of any economic dealings, so that any policy change/ exchange must first be beneficial for their own country, under the direction of individuals who have money, controlling from behind all the government machinery worldwide . And we need to be extremely vigilant and keenly aware of the attempts under the banner of “cultural exchange “, covering up the crimes of the Vietnamese communist party, and most of all, the plans of dealing business, smoothly termed ” reconciliation “, for no other purposes than consolidating the rulers’ power and wealth – stolen from the Vietnamese people- by their cunning, lying, ruthless regime.

In my humble opinion,  the most effective means of contributing by the Vietnamese overseas to democracy in VN  is modeling positively engaging behavior, instilling wisdom in the way of parenting, practicing their civic duty , with the surrounding Vietnamese community as well as within the mainstream society, so that we can proudly face everyone without any inferior feeling, identity crisis about being Vietnamese . It is important to create , maintain and promote the trust and  pride among the younger generation of Vietnamese Americans , so that our children and grandchildren will not have the opportunity to question , criticizing their elders in the Vietnamese community as being contradictory, selfish, not much better than those who are in power in VN, since we are inconsistent in our fight, or deemed indifferent to social evils , injustice , violations of human rights, however small they are, on the countries we now reside …

When we demand fairness, human rights for people who are voiceless, right here on the nations considered relatively free and profoundly democratic; when  we treat each other with sincerity, humanity, in our current communities, we have unfurled the banner of justice , contrasting the extremely immoral, inhuman, irrational, brutal world that has plagued our motherland . Only after having done all that, could we then expect to have a strong, unified voice, backed up by the younger Vietnamese Americans-born and raised on a society with relatively true freedom and democracy- and earning their respect… Young Vietnamese living in VN and engaged in the struggle for a more humane and just nation would understand more clearly why we had to leave our homeland, they will be able to appreciate and participate, willingly march along our stance: that human rights are thoroughly respected, ingrained in our thoughts on any given day, at all levels, and that our actions align well with our unwavering fight against inequality and injustice when we live in an atmosphere of true freedom and democracy …

As for the fight for human rights in VN – or anywhere in the world for that matter, a stark reality check is guaranteed; that, human rights is but a political card on the gamble table of the involved countries attempting to trade,  through ” partnerships , and economic development ” projects, or approving for VN to jump on board with some committee or certain trading organizations on the world stage. Always, the final decision resides with those controlling every form of government throughout the world with their money. Thus, young people aspiring to step up, galvanizing the people and rescuing Vietnam out of its demise need to have a thorough knowledge of Vietnamese history and its position on the political map in the global economy. They will have to diligently acquire substantial, humanely useful knowledge, and patiently cultivate the will in rebuilding a young, new Vietnamese generation that is  mature, well equipped,  firmly resolved in the ideal of rebuilding their own beautiful country, representing the spirit of indomitable Vietnamese ancestry, imprinted forever on the mountains and in the rivers, as children of the Fairy and the Dragon. . Only then, the Vietnamese everywhere will no longer have to sigh and mourn the fate of being a small/ weak/ used country. We then will no longer need to bend backward, following the beckons and being manipulated by the more powerful countries . There will be no more agonizing over the fate of our most voiceless, forgotten, mistreated people .

Our nation has more than four thousand years of national building history, the indomitable spirit of our founding fathers is still there, and Vietnam eventually, definitely, will escape this current dark phase in history. No one and nothing would ever have enough power to completely destroy that. Communism, forced onto the people by the VC, with its evil effects upon Viet Nam, is just a temporary phase, a horrible illness , a disaster for the people and our country , and ” it too shall pass away “, it will sooner or later die off . When the time is right, there will be a large populate, ready to take charge , enabling drastic changes in VN for the better.  With enough national pride in Vietnam’s incredible history, along with the willingness of many common people to sacrifice for a clear and clean change in VN, and with the current rulers fleeing away to save themselves , freedom and democracy will no longer be an unattainable dream, something out of reach…

Phuong M. Vo