----- Original Message -----
believe this tells it all--
This September 24 anti-American mobilization must be countered.
|Unity in U.S. anti-war movement |
Few days ago, about 100 representatives and leaders of the anti-war
movement met in Washington,
DC, to discuss primarily how to create the strongest
internal unity, particularly regarding the September 24 national anti-war mobilization to be held in Washington, DC.
Facilitated by a prominent African American minister, an African American Muslim
Imam, and a Native American civil rights activist, the discussion sometimes delved into negative past interactions between
the national anti-war coalitions, United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ) and Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER); possible
communication disconnect between local member groups and the leadership bodies of these coalitions; and the potential neglect
of the global justice movement (given that the annual International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings were taking place
in Washington the same weekend, and events already were being planned by anti-corporate globalization groups such as the Mobilization
for Global Justice, 50 Years is Enough, and Jubilee 2000).
Much of the 3-hour meeting, however, focused on the possibility of unifying
around a common theme for the anti-war calls to action, and the marches and rallies for that weekend of action.
In order to justify the following proposal for future political direction of
the anti-war movement, it is necessary to assess the barriers and opportunities the movement faces at this moment.
In very recent months there have been exciting, almost unbelievable occurrences
that open up major space for the movement. The Downing Street memos present the
necessary evidence that clearly demonstrate the Bush Administration's deliberate misleading of the U.S. Congress in order
to pre-emptively attack Iraq. Incredibly, the memos have inspired previously
reticent bipartisan members of Congress to begin inquiries into possible impeachment of Bush and his neocon cronies.
Opinion polls now show that upwards of 60% of the U.S.
population is not in favor of the occupation of Iraq. When public support fell to such numbers in the Vietnam era, the tide soon turned successful for the anti-war movement.
Military recruitment is in severe crisis.
ABC and other mainstream news sources report that the regular Army missed its recruiting goals for three straight months
entering May, falling short by 42% in April. The Army was 16% behind its May
goal of 80,000 recruits in fiscal 2005.
The Marine Corps missed its goal for signing up new recruits for four straight
months entering May and was 2% behind its year-to-date goal. It is aiming for 38,195 recruits in fiscal 2005.
These precipitous declines in new recruits, particularly the decrease in numbers
of people of color, is worsened by the often spontaneous yet highly organized counter-recruitment campaigns being borne in
towns big and small, and on college and high school campuses across the country.
These crises have forced unconvincing whitewashing public assertions from Bush
and Cheney that the U.S. military is somehow winning in Iraq and bringing democracy to Iraqis. Although still sorely lacking in volume and substance, corporate media are increasing their coverage of
the problems facing the Bush Administration and its military.
All of this undoubtedly presents a system full of cracks. This is the system of U.S. imperialism, whose path is
paved by U.S. military plunder, intervention, and threat across the globe:
from Iraq to Palestine, from Venezuela to Cuba, from Syria to Lebanon, from North Korea to Haiti, from Latin America
Each of these targeted countries and regions comprises an arm, a leg, a bone,
an organ of U.S. imperialism. Put together they embody an ugly, beastly creature, some parts of which are stronger than others.
Importantly for us here and now, the weakest body part of all is that of Iraq.
Iraq is now
the Achilles heel of the beast, the U.S.
government's drive for empire. Battered, raw, exposed, this point must be focused
on by the anti-Imperialist Left in the United States:
Efforts must continue to strike away at this concentrated weakness.
It is a crucial moment and a critical decision.
Not because the Haitians, the Palestinians, the domestic poor and abused are any less deserving of liberation, but
because ultimately a victory of the Iraqi people against the U.S.
war machine is a victory for liberation struggles around the globe. A military
defeat in Iraq will infuse confidence into struggles everywhere, as it
did when the U.S. military was forced to withdraw from Vietnam. And
the U.S. military is indeed losing, despite
the unconvincing bravadura recently displayed by Bush, Cheney, and the other warmongers.
Thus, the focus on Iraq and bringing the troops home is ultimately strategic,
"strategizing" being a mode of practice in which a unified Left must re-adopt in order to win back the gains and confidence
it lost through reactionary right-wing assaults since the McCarthy era.
Bearing the weight and responsibility of all the deserving struggles in the
world disadvantages the Left at this moment for two reasons. Most importantly,
it creates severe barriers to entry into the movement, ultimately limiting the numbers of people we must be mobilizing in
the streets. Taking noble and justified stances such as unconditional support
for the Iraqi resistance and Palestinian right of return shuts the door of engagement between the movement and groups such
as Iraq Veterans Against the War and Military Families Speak Out. These groups,
as we learned in Vietnam, must be the
backbone of today's anti-war movement in order for us to succeed in our quest for peace.
Taking on too many themes and messages also casts a negative light on the movement
by the corporate mass media. The Fourth Estate has become increasingly unable
to competently develop and present any message beyond a 10-second sound-byte, instead mocking those who try to build cohesive
and comprehensive communication.
In addition, forcing a laundry list of the numerous targets of U.S. Empire
onto each demonstration and event necessitates complex ideological battles with potential members of the anti-war movement. Instead of narrowing the entry point at the start, we instead must open the door widely,
building the trust that will in turn open minds and hearts, and it is when we are side by side on the streets that we can
more successfully make the tedious effort of politically dialoguing with new recruits to our movement, explaining connections,
history, agendas, and positions.
What can be seamlessly integrated are the concerns and issues of the global
justice, anti-capitalist movement. Costs of the war and occupation of Iraq, the appointment of Paul Wolfowitz, and the anti-imperialist
nature of the anti-war movement are aspects congruent to both movements.
A fusion of the anti-war and anti-capitalist movements in the United States will unquestionably strengthen both, boosting
the U.S. Left immeasurably.
Calling for "Bringing the Troops Home Now" is not dumping down the message. It is being patiently and wisely strategic.
In a game of chess against a master -- and we are indeed facing a most organized and efficient systemic evil -- we
can win only by being as methodically focused as our opposition.
The immediate urgency for unity within the U.S. anti-war movement demands that we build the largest, broadest mobilizations
possible -- with the unquestionable long-term intention to 1) build trust among ourselves; 2) educate about the absolute linkages
among global struggles; and 3) make the promise to continue hacking away limb by limb that of the Imperial Beast. Only when we unify strategically and deliberately for the long-run can we create the glorious world we
all know is possible and necessary.
Associated Press Archives:
Duc Duc Resettlement Village Massacre March/April 1971
Pictures and Stories
To Whom It May Concern,
I'd greatly appreciate details of how I can get copies of the
above subject line.
I heard from an eyewitness and participate of the battle that the Associated Press covered the massacre
well, but for various reasons, the news outlets did not choose to cover the story in depth; or not at all.
I'm interested in the Associated Press stories and pictures, because I lived
(24/7) in the Duc Duc Resettlement Village from April 1970 to mid-August 1970. Many of those people were our actual
friends. I left seven months before, the village's massacre by the Vietnamese terrorists.
I served in the Marine Corps' CAP 2-9-2, which was (mobile) stationed in the
village. Back in 1968, the CAP Team was known as NOVEMBER 3 and was stationed in the village in a small defensive
As I mentioned earlier, many of these people were friends of Americans. Personally,
I strongly feel the village was attacked, because of this friendship and support of Americans, while we lived in the village.
(They kept us a live just as much as we kept them a live. The terrorists hated us both.) Even back in 1968,
the peasants were being beaten and killed for supporting Americans in the village. The next link has an interesting
1968 story of our village: http://home.earthlink.net/~americancivilactions/sapper_attack_003.htm
Although the massacre happened over 34 years ago, it is an example of what could happen today
across Iraq, when we withdraw our troops. By posting details about the Duc Duc Resettlement Village Massacre on
the internet, hopefully it will cut back the chances of it being repeated in Iraq.
http://www.augustafreepress.com/stories/storyReader$36067Montagnards violently forced back to Vietnam
The Augusta Free Press
Ninety-four Montagnard Christians
who sought asylum in Cambodia were recently forcibly and violently returned to Vietnam, while United Nations High Commission
on Refugees personnel stood by and did nothing. Cambodian police set up roadblocks in order to block journalists and human-rights
monitors from the building where UNHCR housed the Montagnards and the area where buses were waiting to take them back to Vietnam.
The Montagnards, fearing for their lives, pacifically sat on the floor
of the UNHCR building holding hands and praying. Uniformed storm troops with AK-47 assault rifles slung over their shoulders,
wielding heavy batons and high-voltage electric cattle prods, waded in among the Montagnards, indiscriminately striking and
shocking men, women and children who offered no resistance. According to a Human Rights Watch report, "The police made no
attempt at negotiation. ... Instead, they began to beat and drag people out, one by one."
Eyewitnesses reported that
the Montagnards were dragged out of the facility by their arms, legs and, in several cases, by their hair with their heads
striking the concrete floor. Police beat at least one woman with a baby strapped to her back, and kicked other women repeatedly
in their stomachs. They beat individuals with batons and used electric prods to inflict shock, both as they were boarding
and after they were seated on the buses. The screams and wails of the injured Montagnards were overwhelming.
unknown if the troops were Vietnamese or Cambodian, but an eyewitness said they heard commands being given in Vietnamese.
Since Phnom Penh's police chief, Hok Lundi, is a Vietnamese, and Hanoi maintains a large contingent of special forces in a
compound next to that of Cambodia's communist prime minister, Hun Sen, it would not be surprising that the troops were Vietnamese.
Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch, stated, "The use of unnecessary force shows just how little the Cambodian
government cares about police discipline and about the well-being of the Montagnards. Moreover ... the police's use of excessive
force violates an agreement Cambodia signed with UNHCR and Vietnam in January 2005. The agreement provides ... that UNHCR
will work with the governments of Cambodia and Vietnam to 'bring back (to Vietnam) in an orderly and safe fashion' and 'in
conformity with national and international law' those Montagnards who do not agree to either resettle abroad or voluntarily
return to Vietnam. Cambodia, through the behavior of its police, has violated international human-rights principles, its own
laws, and the agreement it signed with UNHCR and Vietnam. ... This was not a safe return; it was an unnecessarily violent
Nevertheless, some, but not all, of the Montagnards who were forcibly returned had called relatives in the United
States and said they wanted to be resettled. However when the Montagnards first arrived in Cambodia, they had been misled
by agents within the camp and were told the only way UNHCR would let them stay is if when interviewed they must say the reason
they fled Vietnam was they belonged to the Dega church and were being persecuted because they wanted their ancestral land
The Vietnamese communists have banned the Dega church, claiming that it isn't a true religion because it mixes
land issues with religion and is a separatist-political movement. Under communism, all land belongs to the state, and the
Montagnards have been relegated to such small parcels of nutrient-poor land that most often they cannot grow enough food to
feed their families. Even these small parcels are taken from families of refugees who flee to Cambodia and have been resettled
in the U.S. These misinformed Montagnards were then rejected because they didn?t fit UNHCR's perceived criteria.
of this group had fled their villages in the Central Highlands in Vietnam after a communist crackdown on what started out
as a passive prayer vigil last Easter weekend that soon become became violent when Vietnamese police and troops waded into
the praying Montagnards and indiscriminately began clubbing men, women and children. Reportedly scores of Montagnards were
killed, and hundreds beaten, some senseless, with shovels and clubs with nails in them resulting in serious injuries. Many
fled into the jungle, and an unknown number died of starvation and disease in an attempt to gain sanctuary in Cambodia. Many
more were captured and killed or sent to gulags in Vietnam. Crossing the Cambodian border and seeking asylum in Cambodia is
considered a crime by the Vietnamese communists, a violation of national security and national unity, and is punishable by
prison sentences up to 15 years.
One boy fleeing to Cambodia with his father got separated from him and caught by
the Vietnamese. He was taken to a police station and tortured for several days in an attempt to get him to reveal the names
of those who were helping the Montagnards cross into Cambodia; something he did not know. He was later released and escaped
to Cambodia and was able to rejoin his father. Both were in the group of 94 that were refouled back to Vietnam and will inevitably
be tortured, and if they survive, will be given long-term prison sentences or disappear into one of the many gulags in Vietnam.
The refoulment of refugees, who fear repercussions, without a viable independent monitoring system in place to ensure
their safety after their return violates UNHCR's mandate. Such a system does not exist. This isn't the first time that UNHCR
rejected Montagnard refugees and sent them back to Vietnam and an unknown fate. In a sorry attempt to provide a thinly disguised
veil to claim that a monitoring system exists, Hanoi allowed a UNHCR employee, Vu Anh Son - a Vietnamese - to go to the Central
Highlands and visit some of the returnees for a very short time, but only in the presence of communist police. Out of utter
fear of repercussions toward themselves and their families, the Montagnards have no choice but to say they are being treated
well. Their fear in only reinforced when the UNHCR representative is a Vietnamese citizen - seen by the Montagnards as a fox
in the henhouse. Even then, Vu Anh Son was only allowed to visit about two-thirds of the returnees, and UNHCR no idea if the
others are dead or alive.
A chorus of senators and congressmen protested to the State Department and to the American
embassies in Cambodia and Vietnam in an attempt to stop the Montagnards' forcible return to Vietnam, but this seemed to have
fallen on deaf ears. After the Montagnards' refoulment, State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli said that the U.S. raised
"objections to this involuntary repatriation with both the governments of Cambodia and Vietnam" and is "disappointed that
these individuals were repatriated before an internationally-staffed monitoring program was in place in the Central Highlands
of Vietnam and before other solutions could be considered for these individuals."
Vietnam?s prime minister, Phan Van
Khai, was recently honored by with a meeting with President Bush at the White House. He was also wined and dined by representatives
of American companies doing business in Vietnam, where unions are banned and Hanoi provides them with cheap labor. Prior to
and during his visit, Khai promised the State Department and President Bush that Vietnam would ease up on religious persecution
and human-rights abuses. How could anyone believe this when the Vietnamese communists have never honored an agreement they
have made with the U.S.? The recent happenings in Cambodia prove that history repeats itself - empty promises once again.
The Montagnards were among the U.S.'s most loyal allies during the Vietnam War, and it is estimated that one-half
of the adult male population were killed fighting for the Americans. Without them, there would be scores more American names
on that somber black wall - the Vietnam Memorial. This is shameful treatment of our former allies, and don't think for a minute
that the world isn?t taking note.
The author spent 11 years in Vietnam as a Foreign Service officer, and
worked closely with the Montagnards during that time. Of those 11 years, five were as a prisoner of war. Upon release in 1973,
the author returned as a volunteer to Vietnam and continued working with the Montagnards until the communist takeover in 1975.
The author continues to work with the Montagnards in the U.S. and on behalf of those remaining in Vietnam as senior advisor
to the Montagnard Human Rights Organization based in North Carolina. The views expressed by op-ed writers do not necessarily
reflect those of management of The Augusta Free Press.