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Or at least it seems that way. Until I inform them otherwise.
But for the very first time in our history, soon after the war had ended, people started to leave. First there was a trickle, then later a flood as tens of thousands left by boat and on foot heedless of the dangers on the high sea and what awaits them on the other side. Though estimates range, about
Brad and Angelina have kept coming back. Jeez, they even adopted a little Vietnamese boy not too long ago. While hordes of backpackers from Australia, Europe and across America have diligently followed their Lonely Planet mantra and dropped in from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, the new name for Saigon, to marvel at its culture and beauty or to sample a bowl of "pho" (beef noodles) before beginning their day on a shoestring budget. They could see with their own eyes that it is all peaceful now and that the people seem happy and content with their newfound fortune.
Still Vietnamese refugees
The answer is simple. Even though war has ended and peace has triumphed, truth and justice have never prevailed in my homeland. Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of assembly, Maina Kiai, recently referred to this as a "peace coma." That in the name of peace, we choose to ignore flagrant violations of the most basic human rights by the world's most repressive regimes.
Having spent nearly two decades abroad before I decided to return to Vietnam back in 2007, I am often asked by people I meet on my travels about my growing up in post war Vietnam after 1975 and how the country is doing. And what strikes me as fascinating is the fact that when I ask back what they already know about the country, there seems to be only two versions of Vietnam available:
The brutal truth is that there are still refugees from Vietnam. Neither peace nor justice has ever been achieved in my homeland.
But its social and political systems remain unchanged and, to this day, all land still belongs to the state and hundreds of dissidents still remain in prison for challenging the one party rule of the Vietnamese Communist Party. Facebook is banned, no independent news media are allowed, protests are forbidden and civil rights defenders face constant harassment and persecution. Some in the end have to flee, seeking asylum elsewhere while others stay and face imprisonment for up to 16 years for speaking out.
This created the first wave of boat people from Vietnam. My dad was one of them.
38 years after the war ended, people are still fleeing the peace. Without this day, I suspect there wouldn't be as many Vietnamese restaurants in your 'hood. And, without this day, certainly I wouldn't be where I am today to update you on what's been happening since then.
way for a new Utopian socialist state.
Three months after April 30, 1975, my dad, along with hundreds of thousands of South Vietnamese officers and intellectuals, were duly sent to "re education" camps without trial. Upon his release three years after, he was not allowed to work as a teacher again but instead, like other families deemed "anti revolutionary," we were evicted from our home in Saigon and forced to relocate to "new economic" zones to make Saucony Hurricane Iso 2 Womens
This inspires the question: Why flee the peace?
independent struggle against French colonialism and a devastating famine caused by the Japanese during World War II, followed by the Vietnam War until 1975, our people have always stayed put and stoically chosen Vietnam as their home, their land despite all the bloodshed and all the losses.
The new communist victors then set out to nationalize all businesses and embark on a new Reebok Kamikaze 2 socialist economic platform, where properties and land titles belong to the state rather than individuals.
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The first is filled with horror stories and images of a ravaged land once torn by an American led war. And the second is of a new emerging economic tiger in the Far East, the exotic 'it' destination for the young and the famous.
My question often then is: Where are all the well meaning anti Vietnam War protesters of the 1960s and '70s? Have they not cared to learn about what happened thereafter? More important, what can they do now to help make it a better and freer place?
created the second wave of refugees from Vietnam, and it only stopped when Hanoi realized that continuing to do so would lead to a total collapse of the country's economy and with that, the entire social and political system. Assisted by the spirit of "perestroika" in the former Soviet Union in the late 1980s, party leaders then began a series of economic reforms that for the past two decades have helped lift Vietnam out of abject poverty.
You see, like the other 2 million Vietnamese who have left the country since that fateful day 38 years ago, my family came to Australia as refugees in the aftermath of the war. We were in fact part of the first ever exodus of Vietnamese leaving our homeland. Despite multiple wars with our northern neighbor China throughout history, a century old Saucony Kinvara 7
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