On Grave Blunders by the Communist Party of Vietnam Against The Nation and Vietnamese Buddhism.
1. Against the Nation
Everybody knows that communism, polished by Karl Marx, aims to completely rid the world of capitalism; and after World War I, Lenin succeeded in creating a communist regime in Russia in 1917. Ever since, and especially after Word War II and at the beginning of the cold war, the world was clearly divided into two blocs that were against each other unforgivably: Communism and Capitalism. The communist bloc was led by the Soviet Union, the capitalist camp was headed by the United States. The communist bloc targeted to “dig graves and bury the capitalists alive” in order to dominate the world, as communism was an international movement.
The communists advocate a proletariat authoritarianism led by the working class, create hostile class struggle between the rich and poor, and promise to provide to the poor with the wealth confiscated from the rich; and they use violence to achieve those goals – “The power comes from a gun’s muzzle” is their motto. The communists also advocate elimination of religions, as the communists are materialistic atheists, and religions are to them, as Karl Marx said, mankind’s “narcotics” which the capitalist thugs exploited to put people to sleep so the capitalists could easily rob them. Russians, who had been living in poverty and oppression under the Russian Czar’s rule, upon learning about this policy and above-mentioned promises, inevitably supported communism; thus the communists succeeded in Russia.
However, it does not necessarily mean that what good for Russia is also good for Vietnam. Each country has its own problems that need to be resolved accordingly to its historical, cultural, and traditional circumstances. What unfortunate for Vietnam is that communist Vietnamese were oblivious about that.
As mentioned above, the world was divided into two blocs, Communism and Capitalism. Whichever country, especially small feeble African, Asian, and Latin American colonies who were newly liberated after World War II, followed Communism, then the capitalists would hide under the label “anti-communism to protect the free world” to interfere into that country’s internal affairs. Likewise, if a country followed capitalism, then the communists hid under the label “national liberation” to spread communism. Vietnam was such a scenario.
After World War II, the majority of colonized Asian countries were liberated and most of them stayed neutral, therefore people in those countries were able to live in peace to rebuild their countries and to reinforce their young independence. Only Vietnam was wretched by war destructions throughout 29 years long (1946 – 1975), since the communists led Vietnam’s survival tied to the existence and interests of international communism. Had Vietnamese at that time not been international communists and truly devoted to the nation such as India’s Nehru, Indonesia’s Sukarmo, or Egypt’s Nasser .. and so on, Vietnam would have been able to avoid 29 years of devastating Nationalist vs. Communist ideological struggle controlled by foreign forces!
In 1946,the French colonists returned to Vietnam, hoping to reclaim their old colony. But, as everybody recalls, France was devastated after World War II; where would it find the resources to achieve that dream? However, the capitalists gave the French money and bullets to “prevent communism from reaching Southeast Asia in order to protect the free world”. Since Vietnam was a former French colony, the French had a better reason to return to it than other capitalist countries that would jump in directly. On the other hand, communist Vietnamese also called on people to rise up and fight the imperialist invaders in order to “protect the socialist frontier.” Thus, Vietnam informally became a stadium for the Communists and Capitalists to compete in.
In order to create a legitimate reason for themselves, the French brought back the former king Bao Dai and installed an anti-communist royal regime to protect national independence using Vietnamese to kill Vietnamese. The sight of “brother killing brother” started and lasted until 1975 (to be detailed later). Disastrously, right next to those royalists were men who had hawkish nose, brass eyes, curly hair and black skin; how could a patriotic Vietnamese believe that those royalists were “protecting national independence”? In this aspect, the communists were more clever than the capitalists: they used only the natives, only lent the money, guns and bullets, and advisors in the backstage. The communists did not bring armies from other communist countries directly to the war fronts. Thus, native communists created a position of “righteously struggling against foreign invasion” for themselves; therefore the absolute majority of people believed in and supported them wholeheartedly for their patriotism. This was because after 80 years having to live under French colonist rules, who would not have welcomed and been willing to sacrifice to drive the French out of Vietnam for independence? At the end, the communists won.
After the miserable defeat in Dien Bien Phu, the French realized that they did not have enough energy to keep pursuing war. If they continued with war, they could even lose their country to piling debts. Therefore, in 1954, France negotiated with communist Vietnamese to divide Vietnam into 2 halves as per Geneva Agreement. The half from the 17th parallel to the north was given to the communists so that the French could pull their troops out after 9 years of killing and destructions.
After the French retreated, the communists took over Hanoi and ruled the entire North Vietnam, starting to implement communism (which they had not dared to implement during the struggle for fear of infuriating the public) and preparing for the hostile class struggle, which means: foreign enemies were defeated, it was time to finish off domestic enemies. Who were the domestic enemies? They were “The Intellects, The Rich, Landlords, The Bullies, The Religious, and the Rogues”; and they had to be uprooted. This means: thinkers – especially Nationalist Party members, the wealthy, landowners, tormentors, the religious, and the crooks, uprooting means these people had to be completely eliminated! And that hostile class struggle took place in 1956 under the form of land reform and “refreshing poverty and recalling hardships” that lasted throughout 6 months.
Each village had a reform team, assigned by the Central Party, that consisted of only strangers from Central Vietnam. People from the North were assigned to the Central, as people who were from different regions would not be sympathetic with the locals and would be comfortable to ruthlessly brutalize without fear of being identified. The reform team’s slogan was “ Team first, Heaven second.” Likewise, in the South in 1975, the communists were in a position of “charging ahead in abundance of advantage”, at water resource sites, the communists raised the banners “The Heaven thug step aside so that the water resource guy can charge forward and replace Heaven”! and “squeeze water out of soil, replacing Heaven in making rain”; what else can be more lunatic than this? A king in feudal ages could only proclaim to be “Heaven’s son”; nowadays, Communist Party’s reform teams are “Heaven’s fathers” and anyone who wanted to request for anything would have to say “I bow my head begging Heaven to shine the light into.” How whimsical! A political party such as the Communist Party of Vietnam that advocates toppling feudal kings and imperialist colonists now become Heaven’s father! That is how much corruption power and privileges can do to people!
When reform teams come to any village, they go to the poorest families in that village who were farm laborers, buffalo herders for rich people, or wooden bell makers in the village. These people were called “core elements” and assigned the task of “investigative research” by the reform teams to find out who were landowners, royalists, wealthy farmers, intellectuals (i.e., Nationalist Party members). Whoever belonged to these elements were imprisoned at a special location waiting to be publicly denounced; these people would surely be condemned to death. While in prison, the defendants were strictly guarded; family members were not allowed to even come close, and if they did they were also accused of the same crime as the accused. The reason that reform teams assigned such important task to the poorest villagers was that poor people often harbor hatred and jealousy, just like Buddha’s sutra has taught “the needier, the more resentment”; therefore they could be easily instigated to become hateful; and it was hatred that could fuel public denunciation to success.
After the “core elements” had finished the investigative research, the reform team determined the day and time to bring the defendants out to be publicly denounced. The defendants were brought to a stadium which the team called “The People’s Court”, which was often located in the middle of a rice field or on a large parcel of land. At the center of the denouncement location, a tall stand were erected (like a ceremonious stand) specifically for the reform team and the People’s Court’s “jury” (of course these were the poorest and most illiterate people in the village. The defendants knell with their heads bow down, their hands hog-tied backwards.
While the reform team was discussing the crimes, if there was anything unjust that needed vindication, the defendants had to say “We children bow our heads and beg Heaven to shine the light into …” On that day, all the people in the village (each family could only let one elderly person stay home to watch the property) had to join the court to denounce the defendants (of course they had been previously coached). Generally, they would recall “In the old days, you thugs robbed us and lent to us at high interest rates; on posthumous ceremonies or New Year days, we had to give you our chicken, chicken eggs, pork, rice and sweet rice that has amounted to tens of thousands of chicken and eggs; when we worked for you, we were left hungry and even beaten and maltreated by you… so on and so forth.”
There were many cases where children denounced their own fathers, wives denouncing their husbands, students denouncing teachers, and cousins denouncing one another for previous disharmony reasons in their families. After the denunciation, the People’s Court sentenced and condemned the defendants to death, the crowd below had to scream loudly “Execution! Execution! Execution!”; they were screaming and thrusting their fists into the air 3 times. Then, the defendant was blindfolded and tied to a post that was planted previously and then the execution squad consisting of 5 people took aim and fired, the defendant’s head dropped down and that was the end of one human life! It has been told that there were situations where the execution teams had to keep shooting until the accused died. After a long period of hand clapping, the crowd gradually went home so they could come cheer again tomorrow, one village after another! After the execution, the defendants’ properties, which were called “gains”, were divided among core elements; one person got a house, another got the bed, table, chairs, casket, mill, mortar, plough, rakes, pots and pans, sieves and baskets, to the broom …, meaning whatever there was, it would be divided.
As mentioned previously, the class struggle took place throughout 6 months, there was too much death across the North – up to 700,000 people died (among them there was many cases, as an official told me verbatim “It is so painful, communists beheading communists!” – that the Communist Party of Vietnam had to order corrections for its blunders, and as the above-mentioned official told me “Chairman Ho himself apologized to the public”. However, what was ridiculous here was that the Communist Party of Vietnam is proud that it has never committed any blunder. Even when I was jailed by the communists at Phan Dan Luu prison in Ba Chieu, Gia Dinh in 1977, I heard a song on a loud speaker praising the Party as “Truth”, that the Party was “the sun”; if that were true, why did the Party had to correct its blunders? One more painful point to note is that even if there were corrections or apologies, 700,000 people had lost their lives along with their properties!
However, the killing did not cease, as after the correction, people continued to kill one another. The cause: during the era of denunciation, there were many people who, for personal grievances against one another, “borrow the wind to cut the bamboo shoots” and used the denunciation to falsely and unjustly accuse one another to settle personal scores. Therefore, during the correction period, family members of the people who were unfairly killed came back and killed the accusers for revenge. For example, a “core element” man in a village whose index finger was missing when he was a young kid; in the period of reform and denunciation, he used that missing index finger to denounce 10 people. He accused every defendant with the same line “I herded your buffaloes, I cut grass for you. It was enough for you to not only leave me hungry but also not pay my salary; you even chopped off my finger!” Later, he was killed during the correction period. The number of people who were killed in these circumstances was rather high. It was indeed an atmosphere of sky-high anger never before witnessed in 4000 years of history.
The elder monk in Long Khanh temple, Vu Doai village – the location of my exile for more than 10 years (1982 – 1992) – was accused of being member of the Nationalist Party and was jailed for 2 months. Only during the correction period was he released from prison, otherwise he would have been dead. Another person, even though he was poor and had to labor to make a living, he was very honest and righteous. Therefore, this man’s landlord was sympathetic towards him. Every time the man did not have money to buy rice, the landlord lent him the rice interest-free. During the reform period, the man was forced to denounce his landlord, so he had to denounce the landlord. He said “I was poor and had to work for you. You let me eat well twice a day, in the evening you even paid me with a bushel of rice. When I ran out of money and had to borrow rice from you, you lent the rice to me with no interest …” The reform team had to order people to grab the man by his neck and yank him out of the stadium, not allowing him to denounce anymore. In another village, a Pastor was sent to be publicly denounced; his accuser, a woman named Duc, was the rudest person in the whole village. While the Pastor was kneeling in the center of the stadium, Mrs. Duc (Duc means virtue but she did not have any virtue) stood in front of him pointing her fingers to his face and insulted him miserably. Then Mrs Duc said “You are nothing like a practitioner! You are a cuckoo! What kind of a Pastor who fattens himself with meats, chicken, and fish? Look at such an ugly fat face who follows the communists to harm people and the country!”
Immediately, the reform team ordered Mrs. Duc thrown out of the denunciation, but she was still on a roll and refused to stop. She said “I am not done accusing yet! There are still many crimes that I have not denounced.” But one person covered her mouth and another one grabbed her by the arms and threw her out. Perhaps she had been previously coached to say “follows the Nationalists and the French to harm the country and people”, but at the time, she was too excited and completely forgot the line and said “follow the communists”? After that, the Pastor was taken away and still has not been seen to date(1992)!
(To be continued)