The Guardian May 10, 2000


South Vietnam liberated:
A Glorious Anniversary

by Prakash Karat

April 30, 1975, was a day of world-wide rejoicing for all progressive and 
anti-imperialist forces. On that day, Saigon was liberated. The puppet 
regime in South Vietnam bolstered by the USA came to an ignominious 
end.

The pictures which were flashed out of Saigon on that historic day are 
still remembered by a whole generation of people who empathised with the 
struggle of the Vietnamese people.

One was of a battle tank flying the colours of the National Front for 
Liberation smashing through the gates of the Presidential Palace.

The other pictures were of the humiliating evacuation by helicopters of the 
American diplomatic and armed forces personnel from the rooftop of the US 
embassy.

This was the finale of the victorious "Ho Chi Minh campaign" launched by 
the forces which ended the epoch-making 30-year struggle of the Vietnamese 
people for liberation. Vietnam emerged reunified as a socialist republic.

For those who came to political consciousness in the 1960s, the national 
liberation struggle of Vietnam was the single greatest source of 
inspiration and education.

It epitomised, in one great sweep, all the revolutionary currents of the 
post-World War II period.

Vietnam symbolised the anti-imperialist struggle; it represented the 
transition from national liberation to socialism led by a party imbued with 
Marxism-Leninism.

The Vietnamese struggle was the focal point of all the major social 
contradictions which radiated waves of revolutionary movements all over the 
world.

For those born after the Second World War, Vietnam had the same 
revolutionary impact as the October Revolution for the generation coming to 
adulthood at the turn of the century.

As we observe the 25th anniversary of this event, it would be instructive 
to recall the dimensions of this epochal struggle. The mightiest military 
machine of the most powerful imperialist country was pitted against a small 
Asian country which was already ravaged by the French and Japanese colonial 
powers.

The history of the brutal war conducted by America in Vietnam compares with 
some of the worst atrocities of the Nazi and Japanese armies in the Second 
World War. Three million Vietnamese civilians and armed personnel were 
killed in this "total" war.

During the period of the bombing of Vietnam, till 1972, the total tonnage 
of bombs and explosives rained down on Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos was four 
times the bombs dropped in the Second World War by all the combatant 
forces.

The US military industrial complex experimented with the most devilish 
weapons on the people and land of Vietnam. Napalm, chemical and 
bacteriological weapons were used indiscriminately to kill civilians and 
destroy everything which grew on the land.

It was ecological genocide.

The toxic chemicals used for defoliation, like Agent Orange, led to the 
deformation of thousands of babies. Even today, countless victims of the 
chemical and biological warfare require medical treatment.

The US lost 58,000 soldiers in Vietnam. The Vietnamese shot down 3,726 war 
planes and 4,869 helicopters.

The Vietnamese people's unparallelled heroism testified, once again, to the 
truth that human emancipation cannot be thwarted by any force, however 
powerful and reactionary.

This needs remembering, as by the end of the century, the message of the 
Vietnamese struggle has been muffled in the triumphalism of the imperialist 
order.

The imperialist circles would like the world to forget the ferocious 
cruelty and savagery of the war that it waged in Vietnam.

Today when the US and its allies are conducting War Crimes Tribunals on 
events in Yugoslavia and elsewhere, it is necessary to remember that not a 
single war crime in Vietnam by the Americans has been punished. 

Vietnam had to bear an enormous burden after the war. Millions were killed 
or injured, eight hundred thousand children were orphaned or abandoned and 
the land ravaged by unexploded bombs and mines.

The past 25 years have seen Vietnam begin the second, protracted struggle 
to build anew the country and deliver on the promise of liberation.

It has to do so in a completely changed international situation which is 
adverse for the forces of socialism.

The first two and a half decades of reunified Vietnam have registered 
steady advance in restructuring the economy and rebuilding the country.

For the Vietnamese people who displayed amazing resilience and courage in 
the 30 years people's war, the new challenges are not insurmountable.

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INN (Indian News Network)

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