Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Genocide of Hindus & descendants in South Vietnam by Communists under Ho Chi Minh

Champa Kingdom:

The territory of Champa, depicted in green, lay along the coast of present-day southern Vietnam. To the north (in yellow) lay Đại Việt; to the west (in blue), Angkor.

Language(s):Cham, Sanskrit

Religion: Hinduism and Buddhism, later Islam

Government: Monarchy

- Established: 192 A.D
- Panduranga was annexed by Nguyen (Vietnam): 1832 A.D

The kingdom of Aman (Champadesa or Champa Nagar in Cham and Cambodian inscriptions written in Devanagari, Chiêm Thành in Vietnamese and Chen Ching in Chinese records) was an Indianized kingdom of Malayo-Polynesian origins and controlled what is now southern and central Vietnam from approximately the 7th century through to 1832. Champa was preceded in the region by a kingdom called Lin-yi (Chinese) or Lâm Ấp (Vietnamese) that was in existence from 192 AD, but the historical relationship between Lin-yi and Champa is not clear. Champa reached its apogee in the 9th and 10th centuries AD. Thereafter began a gradual decline under pressure from Đại Việt, the Vietnamese polity centered in the region of modern Hanoi in North Vietnam. In 1471, Viet troops sacked the northern Cham capital of Vijaya, and in 1697 the southern principality of Panduranga became a vassal of the Vietnamese emperor. In 1832, the Vietnamese emperor Minh Mang annexed the remaining Cham territories. Between the 7th and the 15th century A.D., Champa at times included the modern Vietnamese provinces of Quảng Nam, Quảng Ngãi, Bình Định, Phú Yên, Khánh Hòa, Ninh Thuận, and Bình Thuận. Though Cham territory included the mountainous zones west of the coastal plain and (at times) extended into present-day Laos, for the most part the Cham remained a seafaring people dedicated to trade, and maintained few settlements of any size away from the coast.

Historical Champa consisted of up to five principalities:

This statue from the late 9th Century once belonged to the Buddhist monastery in the Cham capital of Indrapura.

• Indrapura ("City of Indra") was the capital of Champa from about 875 to about 1000 AD. It was located at the site of the modern village of Dong Duong, not far from the modern city of Da Nang. Also in the region of Da Nang are the ancient Cham city of Singhapura ("City of the Lion"), the location of which has been identified with an archeological site in the modern village of Tra Kieu, and the valley of My Son, where a number of ruined temples and towers can still be viewed. The associated port was at modern Hoi An. The territory once controlled by this principality included present-day Quảng Bình, Quảng Trị, and Thừa Thiên–Huế provinces.
• Amaravati was located in present-day Quảng Nam province.
• Vijaya was located in present-day Bình Định Province. The capital has been identified with the archeological site at Cha Ban. The associated port was at present-day Qui Nhon. Important excavations have also been conducted at nearby Thap Mam, which may have been a religious and cultural center. Vijaya became the political and cultural center of Champa around 1000 AD, when the northern capital of Indrapura was abandoned due to pressure from the Viet. It remained the center of Champa until 1471, when it as sacked by the Viet and the center of Champa was again displaced toward the South. In its time, the principality of Vijaya controlled much of present-day Quang-Nam, Quang-Ngai, Binh Dinh, and Phu Yen Provinces.
• Kauthara was located in the area of modern Nha Trang in Khánh Hòa Province. Its religious and cultural center was the temple of Po Nagar, several towers of which still stand at Nha Trang.
• Panduranga was located in the area of present-day Phan Rang in Ninh Thuận Province. Panduranga was the last of the Cham territories to be annexed by the Vietnamese.

Within the four principalities there were two main clans: the "Dua" and the "Cau." The Dua lived in Amarvati and Vijaya while the Cau lived in Kauthara and Pandaranga. The two clans differed in their customs and habits and conflicting interests led to many clashes and even war. But they usually managed to settle disagreements through intermarriage.

It is acknowledged that the historical record is not equally rich for each of the regions in every historical period. For example, in the 10th century, the record is richest for Indrapura; in the 12th century, it is richest for Vijaya; following the 15th century, it is richest for Panduranga. Scholars have taken these shifts in the historical record to reflect the movement of the Cham capital from one location to another. According to them, if the 10th century record is richest for Indrapura, it is so because at that time Indrapura was the capital of Champa. Through the centuries, Cham culture and society were influenced by forces emanating from China, from India, from Cambodia, from Java, as well as from other sources. Lin Yi, the predecessor state of historical Champa, began its existence in 192 AD as a breakaway Chinese colony. In the 4th century, wars with the neighboring kingdom of Funan in Cambodia and the acquisition of Funanese territory led to the infusion of Indian culture into Cham society. Sanskrit was adopted as a scholarly language, and Hinduism, especially Shaivism, became the state religion. From the 10th century onwards Arab maritime trade in the region brought increasing Islamic cultural and religious influences. Champa came to serve as an important link in the Spice Route which stretched from the Persian Gulf to southern China and later in the Arab maritime routes in Indo-China as a supplier of aloe. Despite the frequent wars between Champa and Cambodia the two countries also traded and cultural influences moved in both directions. Royal families of the two countries intermarried frequently. Champa also had close trade and cultural relations with the powerful maritime empire of Srivijaya and later Majapahit of the Malay Archipelago. Minangkabau people in Sumatra, Indonesia believe that one of their ancestor come from Champa who called as Harimau Campo (Tiger of Champa). Harimau Campo together with Datuak Suri Dirajo (one of Minangkabau founding father), Kambiang Hutan, and Anjiang Mualim created basic concept of martial art of Minangkabau called silek (silat). The people of Champa were descended from Malayo-Polynesian settlers who appear to have reached the Southeast Asian mainland from Borneo about the time of the Sa Huynh culture in the 1st and 2nd centuries B.C. There are pronounced ceramic, industrial and funerary continuities with sites such as the Niah Caves in Sarawak, East Malaysia. Sa Huynh sites are rich in iron artifacts, by contrast with the Dong Son culture sites found in northern Vietnam and elsewhere in mainland Southeast Asia, where bronze artifacts are dominant. The Cham language is part of the Austronesian family. According to one study, Cham is related most closely to modern Acehnese.

The towers of Po Sa Nu (Pho Hai) near Phan Thiết may be the oldest extant Cham buildings. In style, they exhibit the influence of pre-Angkorian Cambodia.

To the Chinese, the country of Champa was known as Linyi and to the Vietnamese, Lâm Ấp. It had been founded in 192 A.D. in the region of modern Huế by Khu Lien, a local leader rebelling against the Han Dynasty. Over the next several centuries, Han forces made repeated unsuccessful attempts to retake the region. From its neighbor Funan to the west, Lâm Ấp soon received the gift of Indian civilization. Scholars locate the historical beginnings of Champa in the 4th century A.D., when the process of Indianization was well underway. It was in this period that the Cham people began to create stone inscriptions in both Sanskrit and in their own language, for which they created a unique script. The first king acknowledged in the inscriptions is Bhadravarman, who reigned from 380 to 413 A.D. At My Son, King Bhadravarman established Hindu god of gods Shiva as Bhadresvara, whose name was a combination of the king's own name and Shiva meaning King Bhadravarman’s God. The worship of Bhadresvara and other names of Shiva continued through the centuries that followed. The capital of Lâm Ấp at the time of Bhadravarman was the citadel of Simhapura ("Lion City", not to be confused with Singapore which shares similar pronunciation and etymology), which was located along two rivers and had a wall eight miles in circumference. A Chinese writer described the people of Lâm Ấp as both warlike and musical, with "deep eyes, a high straight nose, and curly black hair" due to regular immigration of Indian Hindu merchants. According to Chinese records, Sambhuvarman (Fan Fan Tche) was crowned king of Lâm Ấp in 529 A.D. Inscriptions credit him with rehabilitating the temple to Bhadresvara after a fire. Sambhuvarman also sent delegations and tribute to China, and unsuccessfully invaded what is now northern Vietnam. In 605 A.D., a general Liu Fang of the Sui dynasty invaded Lâm Ấp, won a battle by luring the enemy war-elephants into an area booby-trapped with camouflaged pits, massacred the defeated troops, and captured the capital. In the 620s, the kings of Lâm Ấp sent delegations to the court of the recently established Tang Dynasty and asked to become vassals of the Chinese court. Chinese records report the death of the last king of Lâm Ấp as falling in 756 A.D. Thereafter for a time, the Chinese referred to Champa as "Hoan Vuong" or "Huanwang". The earliest Chinese records using a name related to "Champa" are dated 877 A.D.; however, such names had been in use by the Cham themselves since at least 629 A.D., and by the Khmer since at least 657 A.D. From the 7th to the 10th century A.D., the Cham controlled the trade in spices and silk between China, India, the Indonesian islands, and the Abbassid empire in Baghdad. They supplemented their income from the trade routes by exporting ivory and aloe.

One of the risers on the short stairway leading up the My Son E1 Pedestal contains this image of a dancer.

By the second half of the 7th century A.D., royal temples were beginning to make their appearance at Mỹ Sơn. The dominant religious cult was that of the Hindu god Shiva, but temples were also dedicated to Vishnu. Scholars have called the architectural style of this period My Son E1, in reference to a particular edifice at Mỹ Sơn that is regarded as emblematic of the style. Important surviving works of art in this style include a pedestal for a linga that has come to be known as the My Son E1 Pedestal and a pediment depicting the birth of Brahma from a lotus issuing from the navel of the sleeping Vishnu.

In an important stone inscription dated 657 A.D. and found at Mỹ Sơn, King Prakasadharma, who took on the name Vikrantavarman I at his coronation, claimed to be descended through his mother from the Brahman Kaundinya and the serpent princess Soma, the legendary ancestors of the Khmer of Cambodia. This inscription thus underlines the ethnic and cultural connection of Champa with the Khmer Empire, its perennial rival to the west. It also commemorates the king's dedication of a monument, probably a linga, to Shiva. Another inscription documents the king's almost mystical devotion to Shiva, "who is the source of the supreme end of life, difficult to attain; whose true nature is beyond the domain of thought and speech, yet whose image, identical with the universe, is manifested by his forms."

In the 8th century, during the time when the Chinese knew the country as "Huanwang," the political center of Champa shifted cemporarily from My Son southward to the regions of Panduranga and Kauthara, centered around the temple complex of Po Nagar near modern Nha Trang that was dedicated to the indigenous Earth goddess Yan Po Nagar. In 774 A.D. raiders from Java disembarked in Kauthara, burned the temple of Po Nagar, and carried off the image of Shiva. The Cham king Satyavarman pursued the raiders and defeated them in a naval battle. In 781 A.D., Satyavarman erected a stele at Po Nagar, declaring that he had regained control of the area and had restored the temple. In 787 A.D., Javanese raiders destroyed a temple dedicated to Shiva near Panduranga. The last strong king of the Cham was Che Bong Nga or Che Bunga, who ruled from 1360 until 1390. In Vietnamese stories he is called The Red King. Che Bong Nga apparently managed to unite the Cham lands under his rule and by 1372 he was strong enough to attack and almost conquer Dai Viet from the sea. Cham forces sacked Thang Long, the capital city of Dai Viet located at the site of modern Hanoi, in 1372 and then again in 1377. A last attack in 1388 was checked by the Vietnamese General Ho Quy Ly, future founder of the Ho Dynasty. Che Bong Nga died two years later in 1390. This was the last serious offensive by the Cham against Dai Viet, but it helped spell the end of the Tran Dynasty, which had forged its reputation in the wars against the Mongols a century earlier, but which now revealed itself as weak and ineffective in the face of the Cham invasions.

In 1446, the Dai Viet under the leadership of Trinh Kha launched an invasion of Champa. The attack was successful and Vijaya fell to the invaders. A year later, however, a counter-attack drove the Viet from the city. In 1470, the Dai Viet, led by the great emperor Le Thanh Tong, again invaded Champa. Le Thanh Tong was an extraordinary administrator and leader. The Dai Viet army was very powerful and well organized. By contrast the Cham were disorganized and weak. Vijaya was captured after four days of fighting on 21 March 1471. The Cham king Tra-Toan (Pau Kubah) was captured and died not long thereafter, though he sent his son Syah Pau Ling to Aceh and began a new dynasty there, and another son Shah Indra Barman to Melaka. According to linguistic study Acehnese people of northern Sumatra and Cham are related through the Aceh-Chamic languages. At least 60,000 Cham people were killed and 30,000 were taken as slaves by the Vietnamese army. The capital of Vijaya was obliterated. As a result of the victory, Le Thanh Tong annexed the principalities of Amaravati and Vijaya. This defeat caused the first major Cham emigration, particularly to Cambodia and Malacca.

What remained of historical Champa was the southern principality of Panduranga. Moreover, under the protection of Dai-Viet, it preserved some of its independence. This was the starting point of the modern Cham Lords in the principality of Panduranga (Phan Rang). In 1692, the Cham Lord Po Sot rebelled against Nguyễn Phúc Trăn who ruled southern Vietnam. The revolt was at first unsuccessful and the aftermath was exacerbated by an outbreak of plague in Panduranga. However, a Cham aristocrat Oknha Dat obtained the help of the general A Ban, a Chinese leader. They was defeated by the Nguyễn forces of Lord Nguyễn Phúc Chu, under General Nguyễn Hữu Cảnh in 1695. After the defeated, new king Po Saktiray Da Patih (younger brother of Po Sot) signed a peace treaty with Nguyễn Phuc Chu. As a result of the treaty, the Cham lords were called as Trấn Vương (local lord) of Thuận Thành (Panduranga) by the Nguyễn Lords, and they were closely supervised by Nguyễn officials. Although the Cham lords had authority to the Cham people, "Archives du Panduranga" supplied some evidences about their limited authority over Vietnamese settlers. The Cham lords often played the role of the judge for Kinh-Cham conflict cases. 17 years later, in 1712, the Nguyễn Lord Nguyễn Phúc Chu made new treaty called "the treaty with 5 articles"(Ngũ điều Nghị định) with the Cham Lord Po Saktiray Da Patih and clarified the right (included the trial right of the Cham lords and Cham people) and the obligation of the Cham Lords and the Nguyen Lords. This new treaty was kept until 1832 by the Cham Lords, Nguyễn Lords, Tây Sơn Lords and Nguyễn Emperors.
As a result of the war between the Tây Sơn, under Nguyễn Nhạc, and Nguyễn Ánh, in 1786, the Cham Lord Chei Krei Brei and his court fled to Cambodia. The assumption behind this flight is that they supported the Nguyễn Lords and the Tây Sơn Lords seemed to have won the war. From then on, the Cham Lords' title was downgraded to prefect. In 1796, during the last years of the Tây Sơn, Tuen Phaow, a noble from Makah (Kelantan), headed a major revolt against the new Cham leaders (Po Ladhwan Paghuh, Po Chơng Chơn and Po Klan Thu) and claimed Kelantan's support but the revolt was defeated. The Cham leaders regained their special rights once Nguyễn Ánh (the Emperor Gia Long) regained control over Vietnam in 1802. But even the limited Cham rule in Panduranga officially came to an end in 1832, when the Vietnamese Emperor Minh Mạng annexed the area.

Before the conquest of Champa by the Vietnamese king Lê Thánh Tông in 1471, the dominant religion of the Cham people was Hinduism, and the culture was heavily influenced by that of India. The Hinduism of Champa was overwhelmingly Shaivist, that is, focussed on the worship of Shiva, and it was liberally combined with elements of local religious cults such as the worship of the Earth goddess Yan Po Nagar. The main symbols of Cham Shaivism were the linga, the mukhalinga, the jatalinga, the segmented linga, and the kosa.
• A linga (or lingam) is a phallic post that serves as a representation of Shiva. Cham kings frequently erected and dedicated stone lingas as the central religious images in royal temples. The name a Cham king would give to such a linga would be a composite of the king's own name and suffix "-esvara," which stands for Shiva.
• A mukhalinga is a linga upon which has been painted or carved an image of Shiva as a human being or a human face.
• A jatalinga is a linga upon which has been engraved a stylized representation of Shiva's chignon hairstyle.
• A segmented linga is a linga post divided into three sections in order to represents the three aspects of the Hindu godhead or trimurti: the lowest section, square in shape, represents Brahma; the middle section, octogonal in shape, represents Vishnu, and the top section, circular in shape, represents Shiva.
• A kosa is a cylindrical basket of precious metal used to cover a linga. The donation of a kosa to the decoration of a linga was a distinguishing characteristic of Cham Shaivism. Cham kings gave names to special kosas in much the way that they gave names to the lingas themselves.

This haut relief sculpture belonging to the Dong Duong Style of Cham art is of a Dvarapala or temple guardian.

This Cham head of Shiva was made of electrum around 800 A.D. It decorated a kosa, or metal sleeve fitted to a lingam. One can recognize Shiva by the tall chignon hairstyle and by the third eye in the middle of his forehead.

This 10th century Cham segmented jatalinga stands at the temple complex of My Son.

The predominance of Hinduism in Cham religion was interrupted for a time in the 9th and 10th centuries, when a dynasty at Indrapura (Dong Duong in Quang Nam Province of modern Vietnam) adopted Mahayana Buddhism as its faith. The Buddhist art of Dong Duong has received special acclaim for its originality. In the 10th centuries and following, Hinduism again became the predominant religion of Champa. Some of the sites which have yielded important works of religious art and architecture from this period are, aside from My Son, Khuong My, Tra Kieu, Chanh Lo, and Thap Mam.

Islam started making headway among the Cham after the 10th century, but it was only after the 1471 invasion that this influence picked up speed. By the 17th century the Royal families of Cham Lords also began to turn to Islam and this eventually triggerred the major shift in religious orientation of the Cham so that by the time of their final annexation by the Vietnamese, the majority of the Cham people had converted to Islam. Most Cham are now Muslims (80%), though significant minorities of Hindus (15%) and Mahayana Buddhists (5%) exist. Indonesian 15th century records indicate the influence of Princess Darawati, a Cham, in influencing her husband Kertawijaya, Majapahit's seventh ruler, similarly to Parameshwara of Malacca, to convert the Majapahit royal family to Islam. The Islamic tomb of Putri Champa (Princess of Champa) can be found in Trowulan, East Java, the site of Majapahit imperial capital. In 15th to 17th century, Muslim Chams maintained a cordial relationship with Aceh Sultanate through dynastic marriage. This sultanate was located on the northern tip of Sumatra and was an active promotor of Islamic faith in Indonesian archipelago. According to linguistic studies Acehnese people and Cham are related as both were belongs to the same Aceh-Chamic languages family.

Before the conquest of Champa by the Vietnamese king Lê Thánh Tông in 1471, the dominant religion of the Cham people was Hinduism, and the culture was heavily influenced by that of India. The Hinduism of Champa was overwhelmingly Shaivist, that is, focussed on the worship of Shiva, and it was liberally combined with elements of local religious cults such as the worship of the Earth goddess Yan Po Nagar. The main symbols of Cham Shaivism were the linga, the mukhalinga, the jatalinga, the segmented linga, and the kosa.
• A linga (or lingam) is a phallic post that serves as a representation of Shiva. Cham kings frequently erected and dedicated stone lingas as the central religious images in royal temples. The name a Cham king would give to such a linga would be a composite of the king's own name and suffix "-esvara," which stands for Shiva.
• A mukhalinga is a linga upon which has been painted or carved an image of Shiva as a human being or a human face.
• A jatalinga is a linga upon which has been engraved a stylized representation of Shiva's chignon hairstyle.
• A segmented linga is a linga post divided into three sections in order to represents the three aspects of the Hindu godhead or trimurti: the lowest section, square in shape, represents Brahma; the middle section, octogonal in shape, represents Vishnu, and the top section, circular in shape, represents Shiva.
• A kosa is a cylindrical basket of precious metal used to cover a linga. The donation of a kosa to the decoration of a linga was a distinguishing characteristic of Cham Shaivism. Cham kings gave names to special kosas in much the way that they gave names to the lingas themselves.

The most significant site for Cham temple architecture is at My Son (Viet: Mỹ Sơn) near the town of Hoi An (Viet: Hội An). The large complex at My Son was heavily damaged by US bombing during the Vietnam War. The site is currently being restored with donations from a number of countries and NGO's. As of 2004, the clearing of land mines and UXO's had not been completed.
Many historic Cham towers still remain standing at other sites in Central Vietnam , including the following:
• Po Nagar
• Po Klaung Garai

The largest collection of Cham sculpture may be found in the Danang Museum of Cham Sculpture (formerly known as "Musée Henri Parmentier") in the coastal city of Da Nang (Viet: Đà Nẵng). The museum was established in 1915 by French scholars, and is regarded as one of the most beautiful in Southeast Asia.

My Son is the site of the largest collection of Cham ruins.

Cham people:

Cham dance performance at one of their temples in south Vietnam

Total population: ~500,000
Regions with significant populations -
Cambodia: 317,000
Vietnam: 127,000
Laos: 15,000

Languages: Cham, Malay, Khmer, Vietnamese, Tamil
Religion: Predominantly Sunni Islam, Minority Shia Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism

The Vietnamese Chams live mainly in coastal and Mekong Delta provinces. They have two distinct religious communities, Muslim or Cham Bani constitute about 22,000 and Hindu or Cham Balamon (deriving from the word "Brāhman" and used both in Cham and in Vietnamese), who constitute majority 32,000 of the Chams in Vietnam. While they share a common language and history, there is no intermarriage between the groups. A small number of the Cham also follow Mahayana Buddhism. Many emigrated to France in the late 1960s after the civil war broke out in Saigon city. In Cambodia, the Chams are 90% Muslim, as are the Utsuls of Hainan and rest 10% Hindus. The isolation of Cham Muslims in central Vietnam resulted in an increased syncretism with Buddhism until recent restoration of contacts with other global Muslim communities in Vietnamese cities, but Islam is now seeing a renaissance, with new mosques being built. During the rule of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, the Chams of that country suffered serious purges with as much as half of their population exterminated.

Depiction of fighting Cham naval soldier against the Khmer, stone relief at Angkor, Cambodia

The Cham experienced genocide under the Khmer rouge. During the massacres by the government, a disproportionate number of Chams were killed compared with ethnic Khmers. Ysa Osman, a researcher at the Documentation Center of Cambodia concludes,"Perhaps as many as 500,000 died. They were considered, along with the Vietnamese, the Khmer Rouge's No. 1 enemy. The plan was to exterminate them all" because "they stood out. They worshiped their own god. Their diet was different. Their names and language were different. They lived by different rules. The Khmer Rouge wanted everyone to be equal, and when the Chams practiced Islam or Hinduism they did not appear to be equal. So they were punished."

Khmer Krom:

Khmer woman in a market

Total population: 1,055,174 in Vietnam
Regions with significant populations: Vietnam (Mekong River Delta)
Languages: Khmer, Vietnamese
Religion: Hinduism & Theravada Buddhism

The Khmer Krom are Khmer people living in the Delta and the Lower Mekong area. Mostly regarded as the indigenous ethnic Khmer minority living in southern Vietnam. In Vietnamese, they are known as Khơ-me Crộm or Khơ-me dưới, which literally means “Khmer from below” (“below” referring to the lower areas of the Mekong Delta). The Khmer Krom are ethnic Khmer who inhabited that area long before the arrival of the Vietnamese. According to Vietnamese government figures (1999 census), there are 1,055,174 Khmer Krom in Vietnam. Beginning in the early 17th century, colonization of the area by Vietnamese settlers gradually isolated the Khmer of the Mekong Delta from their brethren in Cambodia proper and resulted in their becoming a minority in the delta. Prey Nokor was the most important commercial seaport to the Khmers. The city’s name was changed by Vietnam to Sài Gòn and then Hồ Chí Minh City. The loss of the city prevented the Cambodians access to the South China Sea. Subsequently, the Khmers' access to the sea was now limited to the Gulf of Thailand. It began as a small fishing village known as Prey Nokor. The area that the city now occupies was originally swampland, and was inhabited by Khmer people for centuries before the arrival of the Vietnamese.
In 1623, King Chey Chettha II of Cambodia (1618-1628) allowed Vietnamese refugees fleeing the Trịnh-Nguyễn War in Vietnam to settle in the area of Prey Nokor, and to set up a custom house at Prey Nokor. Increasing waves of Vietnamese settlers, which the Cambodian kingdom, weakened because of war with Thailand, could not impede, slowly Vietnamized the area. In time, Prey Nokor became known as Saigon. In 1698, Nguyễn Hữu Cảnh, a Vietnamese noble, was sent by the Nguyen rulers of Huế to establish Vietnamese administrative structures in the area, thus detaching the area from Cambodia, which was not strong enough to intervene. Since 1698, the area has been firmly under Vietnamese administration. The Vietnamese became the majority population in most places.

When independence was granted to French Indochina in 1954, the Mekong Delta was included in the state of South Vietnam, despite protests from Cambodia. In the 1970s, the Khmer Rouge regime attacked Vietnam in an attempt to reconquer those areas of the delta still predominantly inhabited by Khmer Krom people, but this military adventure was a total disaster and precipitated the invasion of Cambodia by the Vietnamese army and subsequent downfall of the Khmer Rouge, with Vietnam occupying Cambodia.
Son Ngoc Thanh, the nationalist Cambodian, was a Khmer krom, born in Trà Vinh, Vietnam. Cambodia got independence in Geneva, 1954, through the Vietnamese struggle in the First Indochina War. In 1757, the Vietnamese colonized the provinces of Psar Dèk (renamed Sa Đéc in Vietnamese) and Moat Chrouk (vietnamized to Châu Đốc).

Flag of Khmers Kampuchea-Krom Federation (KKF)

Khmer Krom boat

Many independent NGOs report the human rights of the Khmer Krom are still being violated by the Vietnamese government. Khmer Krom are reportedly forced to adopt Vietnamese family names and speak the Vietnamese language. The education of the Khmer Krom is neglected and they face many hardships in everyday life, such as difficult access to Vietnamese health services (recent epidemics of blindness affecting children have been reported in the predominantly Khmer Krom areas of the Mekong delta, difficulty in practicing their religion (Khmer Krom are Hindus or Theravada Buddhists, like Cambodian and Thai people, but unlike Vietnamese who are mostly Mahayana Buddhists or few Roman Catholics), difficulty in finding jobs outside of the fields, and social racism. The Khmer Krom are among the poorest segments of the population in southern Vietnam. Unlike other minority people groups of Vietnam, the Khmer Krom are largely unknown in the Western world, despite efforts by associations of exiled Khmer Krom such as the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Federation to publicize their issues with the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation. No Western government has raised the matter of the Khmer Krom’s human rights with the Vietnamese government.


The Degar (referred to by French colonists as Montagnard) are the indigenous peoples of the Central Highlands of Vietnam. The term Montagnard means "mountain people" in French and is a carryover from the French colonial period in Vietnam. In Vietnamese, they are known by the term thượng (highlanders) - this term can also be applied to other minority ethnic groups in Vietnam). Thượng is the Vietnamese adaptation of the Chinese "Shang"/Cham. Montagnard was the term, typically shortened to "Yard", used by U.S. military personnel in the Central Highlands during the Vietnam War. However the term has been viewed as derogatory and the official term is now Người dân tộc thiếu số (literally means minority people). Before the Vietnam War, the population of the Central Highlands, estimated at between 3 and 3.5 million, was almost exclusively Degar. Today, the population is approximately 4 million, of whom about 1 million are Degars. The 30 or so Degar tribes in the Central Highlands comprise more than six different ethnic groups who speak languages drawn primarily from the Malayo-Polynesian, Tai, and Mon-Khmer language families. The main tribes, in order of population, are the Jarai, Rhade, Bahnar, Koho, Mnong, and Stieng. Originally Cham inhabitants of the coastal areas of the region, they were driven to the uninhabited mountainous areas by invading Vietnamese and Cambodians beginning prior to the 9th century. Although French Roman Catholic missionaries converted some Degar in the nineteenth century, American missionaries made more of an impact in the 1930s, and many Degar are now Protestant. Of the approximately 1 million Degar, close to half are Protestant, while around 200,000 are Roman Catholic. This made Vietnam's Communist Party suspicious of the Degar, particularly during the Vietnam War, since it was thought that they would be more inclined to help the American forces (predominantly Christian—mainly Protestant). In the mid-1950s, the once-isolated Degar began experiencing more contact with outsiders after the Vietnamese government launched efforts to gain better control of the Central Highlands and, following the 1954 Geneva Accord, new ethnic minorities from North Vietnam moved into the area. As a result of these changes, Degar communities felt a need to strengthen some of their own social structures and to develop a more formal shared identity. In 1950, the French government established the Central Highlands as the Pays Montagnard du Sud (PMS) under the authority of Vietnamese Emperor Bao Dai, whom the French had installed as nominal chief of state in 1949 as an alternative to Ho Chi Minh's Democratic Republic of Vietnam. When the French withdrew from Vietnam and recognized a Vietnamese government, Degar political independence was drastically diminished. The Degar have a long history of tensions with the Vietnamese majority. While the Vietnamese are themselves heterogeneous, they generally share a common language and culture and have developed and maintained the dominant social institutions of Vietnam. The Degar do not share that heritage. There have been conflicts between the two groups over many issues, including land ownership, language and cultural preservation, access to education and resources, and political representation. In 1958, the Degar launched a movement known as BAJARAKA (the name is made up of the first letters of prominent tribes) to unite the tribes against the Vietnamese.

A US Army Ranger trains Degar guerillas

The 1960s saw contact between the Degar and the U.S. military, as American involvement in the Vietnam War escalated and the Central Highlands emerged as a strategically important area, in large part because it included the Ho Chi Minh trail, the North Vietnamese supply line for Viet Cong forces in the south. The U.S. military, particularly the U.S. Army’s Special Forces, developed base camps in the area and recruited the Degar, roughly 40,000 of whom fought alongside American soldiers and became a major part of the U.S. military effort in the Highlands. Thousands of Degar fled to Cambodia after the fall of Saigon to the North Vietnamese Army, fearing that the new government would launch reprisals against them because they had aided the U.S. Army. The U.S. military resettled some Degar in the United States, primarily in South Carolina, but these evacuees numbered less than two thousand. In addition, the Vietnamese government has steadily displaced thousands of villagers from Vietnam's central highlands, to use the fertile land for coffee plantations.

Viet Minh:

The Viet Minh flag.

The Việt Minh (English "League for the Independence of Vietnam") was a national liberation movement founded in South China on May 19, 1941. The Việt Minh initially formed to seek independence for Vietnam from France and later to oppose the Japanese occupation & even fought Indian patriot Netaji Subhas’ INA. The Vietnamese are a breakaway South Chinese ethnicity that established North Vietnam.

Viet Cong: Vietcong or National Liberation Front, Việt cộng or Quân Giải phóng [Liberation Army] - Participant in the Vietnam War

The flag of the Vietcong, adopted in 1960, is a variation on the Flag of North Vietnam.

Active: 1954—1976
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism, Left-wing nationalism, Vietnamese nationalism

Headquarters: Mimot, Cambodia (1966-72); Loc Ninh, South Vietnam (1972-75)

Area of operations:Indochina, with a focus on South Vietnam
Originated as: Vietminh

The Vietcong (Việt Cộng), or National Liberation Front (NLF), was a political organisation and army in South Vietnam and Cambodia while under communist dictator Pol Pot, that fought the United States and South Vietnamese governments during the Vietnam War (1959-1975). It had both guerrilla and regular army units, as well as a network of cadres who organized peasants in the territory it controlled. Many soldiers were recruited in South Vietnam, but others were attached to the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN), the regular North Vietnamese army. During the war, communists and anti-war spokesmen insisted the Vietcong was an insurgency indigenous to the South, while the U.S. and South Vietnamese governments disputed this and portrayed the group as a tool of Hanoi. This allowed writers to distinguish northern communists from the southern communists. However, northerners and southerners were always under the same command structure.

Southern Vietnamese communists established the National Liberation Front in 1960 to encourage the participation of non-communists in the insurgency. Many of the Vietcong's core members were "regroupees," southern Vietminh who had resettled in the North after the Geneva Accord (1954). Hanoi gave the regroupees military training and sent them back to the South along the Ho Chi Minh trail in the early 1960s. The NLF called for Southerners to "overthrow the camouflaged colonial regime of the American imperialists" and to make "efforts toward the peaceful unification." The Vietcong's best-known action was the Tet Offensive, a massive assault on more than 100 South Vietnamese urban centers in 1968, including an attack on the US embassy in Saigon. The offensive riveted the attention of the world's media for weeks, but also overextended the Vietcong. Later communist offensives were conducted predominately by the North Vietnamese. The group was dissolved in 1976 when North and South Vietnam were officially unified under a communist government.

United Front for the Liberation of Oppressed Races: FULRO: Front Uni de Lutte des Races Opprimées

FLC leader: Les Kosem (a Muslim Cham)

FLHP leader: Y Bham Enuol

FLKK leader: Chau Dera
Founded: 1964
Dissolved: 1992
Headquarters: Mondulkiri Province, Cambodia

Ideology: Cham, Degar and Khmer Nationalism

The United Front for the Liberation of Oppressed Races (FULRO), (French - Front Uni de Lutte des Races Opprimées), (Vietnamese - Mặt trận Thống nhất Đấu tranh của các Sắc tộc bị Áp bức) was an organization within Vietnam, whose objective was autonomy for the Degar, Cham & Khmer tribes. Initially a political nationalist movement, after 1969 it evolved into a fragmented guerrilla group which carried on an insurgency against, successively, the North Vietnam and Socialist Republic of Vietnam regimes.
The movement effectively ceased to function in 1992, when the last group of 407 FULRO fighters and their families handed in their weapons to United Nations peacekeepers in Cambodia.

BAJARAKA - precursor of FULRO:

On May 1st, 1958, a group of intellectuals headed by a French-educated Rhade civil servant, Y Bham Enuol, established an organization seeking greater autonomy for the minorities of the Vietnamese Central Highlands. The organization was given the name BAJARAKA, which stood for four main ethnic groups: the Bahnar people, the Jarai (Gia Rai people), the Rhade or E De people, and the K'Ho people. On July 25, BAJARAKA issued a notice to the embassies of France and the United States and to the United Nations, denouncing acts of racial discrimination, and requesting government intervention to secure independence. In August-September 1958, BAJARAKA held several demonstrations in Kon Tum, Pleiku, and Buon Ma Thuot. These were quickly suppressed, and the most prominent leaders of the movement arrested: they would remain in jail for the next few years.
One of BAJARAKA's leaders, Y Bih Aleo, was however to join the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam, the Viet Cong.


The early 1960s were to see increasing military activity in the Central Highlands; from 1961, American military advisers had assisted in setting up armed village defence militias (the Civilian Irregular Defense Groups, CIDG). In 1963, after the 1963 South Vietnamese coup coup to overthrow Ngo Dinh Diem, all the leaders of BAJARAKA were released. In an effort to integrate Degar ambitions, several of them were given government posts: Paul Nur, vice-president of BAJARAKA, was appointed deputy provincial chief for the province of Kon Tum, while Y Bham Enuol, the movement's president, was appointed deputy provincial governor of Đắk Lắk Province. By March 1964, with US backing, the leaders of BAJARAKA, along with representatives of other ethnic groups and of the Upper Cham people, established the Central Highlands Liberation Front (French: Front de Liberation des Hauts Plateaux, FLHP). The Front rapidly split into two factions. One faction, advocating peaceful means, was led by Y Bham Enuol. A second, led by Y Dhơn Adrong, advocated violent resistance. From March to May 1964, Adrong's faction infiltrated the border with Cambodia and set at the old French base, Camp le Rolland, in Mondulkiri Province within 15 km of the Vietnamese border, where they continued to recruit FLHP fighters.


In the meantime, the regional ambitions of Cambodian Head of State, Prince Norodom Sihanouk, had led to an effort to coordinate the operations of various separatist groups operating within South Vietnam and the in the Cambodian border areas. Contact was made between Adrong's faction of the FLHP and two other groups:
• The Cham Liberation Front (Front de Liberation du Champa, FLC) led by Lieutenant-Colonel Les Kosem, a Cham officer in the Royal Cambodian Army (FARK).
• The Liberation Front of Kampuchea Krom (Front de Liberation du Kampuchea Krom, FLKK), representing the Khmer Krom of the Mekong Delta, led by former monk Chau Dara.
Kosem, the most senior Cham officer in the Cambodian army, had been involved in Cham activism since the late 1950s, and is suspected to have been working as a double agent for both the Cambodian secret service and the French. The FLKK, on the other hand, originated in a semi-mystic, semi-military group known as the "White Scarves" (Kaingsaing Sar) based in the Seven Mountains area of An Giang Province and founded in the late 1950s by a monk, Samouk Seng (or Samouk Sen); this had been supported by Sihanouk as a counterbalance to a republican guerrilla movement operating the same area, the Khmer Serei. Chau Dara was also suspected to be working for the Cambodian secret service. These contacts were to lead to the establishment of the United Front for the Liberation of Oppressed Races (FULRO), based on the above groups and the FLHP. The flag of FULRO was designed with three stripes: one blue (representing the sea), red (a symbol of struggle) and green (the colour of the mountains). Three white stars on the central red stripe represented the three fronts of FULRO. A later form of the flag replaced the blue stripe with black.

The 1964 Buôn Ma Thuột rebellion:

In September 1964, there was an outbreak of violence by American-trained CIDG troops in several Special Forces camps; several Vietnamese soldiers were killed, and FULRO activists seized the radio station in Buôn Ma Thuột, from which they broadcast calls for independence. Enuol rapidly gave his blessing to the insurgency, and communiques were issued in the names of Enuol, Dara and Kosem requesting concessions from the Saigon government. On September 20th 1964, Brigadier-General Vinh Loc, the commander of Military Region II, instigated a sharp military response, rapidly surrounding the insurgents. Negotiations between the rebels and Vietnamese, through the intermediary representing the U.S. embassy, resulted in an agreement in which Y Bham Enuol was confirmed as the head of the 'official' FULRO / FLHP movement, and the rebel leaders were allowed to withdraw into Cambodia. By 27 September, Kosem ordered around 2000 fighters under the command of Adrong to withdraw into Mondulkiri.
The Americans were unsure who was ultimately responsible for the CIDG men's rebellion, and initially blamed the Viet Cong and French. However, the 'neutralist' Cambodian regime of Sihanouk had probably the greatest hand in events: the 20 September 1964 'Declaration', by the Haut Comité of FULRO, contained anti-SEATO rhetoric that bore a strong resemblance to that issued by Sihanouk's regime in the same period. Sihanouk hosted a conference, the "Indochinese People's Conference", in Phnom Penh in early 1965, at which Enuol headed a FULRO delegation. Lack of progress in gaining concessions led to another FULRO uprising by its more militant faction in December 1965, in which 35 Vietnamese (including civilians) were killed. This event was rapidly suppressed, and four captured FULRO commanders (Nay Re, Ksor Bleo, R'Com Re and Ksor Boh) were publicly executed.

Negotiations and divisions:

On June 2, 1967, Y Bham Enuol sent a delegation to Buôn Ma Thuột to petition the South Vietnamese government. On 25 and 26 June 1967, a congress of ethnic minorities throughout South Vietnam was convened to finalise a joint petition, and on August 29 1967, a meeting was held under the direction of Nguyen Van Thieu, President of the National Leadership Committee and Major General Nguyen Cao Ky, President of the Central Executive Committee. By December 11, 1968, negotiations between FULRO and the Vietnamese authorities had resulted in an agreement to recognise minority rights, establish a Ministry to support these rights, and to allow Y Bham Enuol to remain permanently in Vietnam.
However, some elements of FULRO, notably the FLC head Les Kosem, opposed the deal with the Vietnamese. On December 30 1968, Kosem, at the head of several battalions of the Royal Cambodian Army, and accompanied by a group from the militant FULRO wing responsible for the 1965 fighting, surrounded and took Camp le Rolland. Enuol was placed under effective house arrest in Phnom Penh at the residence of Colonel Um Savuth of the Cambodian army, where he was to remain for the next six years. On February 1, 1969, a final treaty was signed between Paul Nur, representing the Republic of Vietnam, and Y Dhơn Adrong. These events signified the end of FULRO as a 'political' movement, especially as its previous backer, the Sangkum regime of Sihanouk, was to fall to the Cambodian coup of 1970. However, some elements of FULRO, dissatisfied with the treaty, continued armed resistance in the Central Highlands. These disparate armed groups looked forward to the collapse of the Saigon regime, and had some local cooperation with the Viet Cong, who offered unofficial support such as caring for their wounded.

After the fall of South Vietnam:

On April 17, 1975, the Cambodian Civil War ended when the Khmer Rouge communists - then in a political alliance with Sihanouk, the GRUNK - took Phnom Penh. Y Bham Enuol, and some 150 members of the militant FULRO faction still present in the city, were executed by the Khmer Rouge at the city's stadium, along with many officials of the Cambodian regime; the remaining FULRO guerrillas in Vietnam, however, were to remain unaware of Enuol's death. After the Fall of Saigon and the collapse of the South Vietnam government, it was suggested that the United States continue to support FULRO in its struggle against the government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Several thousand FULRO troops under Y Ghok Niê Krieng carried on fighting Vietnamese forces, but the promised American aid did not materialise. FULRO continued operations in the remote highlands throughout the late 1970s, but it was increasingly weakened by internal divisions, and trapped in an ongoing conflict between the Khmer Rouge and Vietnamese. Despite this, in the early 1980s there was a peak in this second phase of the FULRO insurgency, possibly with active material support from China, who benefited from the conflict as part of its ongoing standoff with Vietnam. Some estimates gave the total number of FULRO troops in this period at 7,000, mostly based in Mondulkiri, and supplied with Chinese armaments via the Khmer Rouge, which was by this point fighting its own guerrilla war in western Cambodia. However by 1986 this aid had ceased, a Khmer Rouge spokesman stating that while the tribesmen were "very, very brave", they had "no support from any leadership" and "no political vision". Following the cessation of supplies, the bitter guerrilla warfare would however in time reduce FULRO's forces to no more than a few hundred. The final FULRO troops surrendered their weapons in 1992; many of these groups were given asylum in the United States. Even at this late stage, they only decided to give up armed struggle when they finally heard that Y Bham Enuol had been executed seventeen years previously.

South Vietnam: (1955–1975) - Việt Nam Cộng Hòa: Republic of Vietnam

Motto: Tổ quốc - Công minh - Liêm chính (1967 - 1975)
(Fatherland - Justice - Integrity)
Capital: Saigon

Government: Republic
Last President: (1965-75) Nguyễn Văn Thiệu
Freedom from France - 26 October 1955
Fall of Saigon - 30 April 1975

South Vietnam refers to a state which governed southern Vietnam until 1975. It received international recognition in 1950 as the “State of Vietnam” (1949-55) and later as the “Republic of Vietnam” (1955-75). Its capital was Saigon. The terms “South Vietnam” and “North Vietnam” became common usage in 1954 at the time of the Geneva Conference, which partitioned Vietnam into communist and non-communist zones at the 17th parallel. South Vietnam’s origins can be traced to the French colony of Cochinchina, a subdivision of French Indochina, which consisted of the southern third of Vietnam. After World War II, the Việt Minh, led by Hồ Chí Minh, proclaimed Vietnamese independence in Hanoi. In 1949, non-communist Vietnamese politicians formed a rival government in Saigon led by former emperor Bảo Đại. Bảo Đại was deposed by Prime Minister Ngô Đình Diệm in 1955, who proclaimed himself president after a fraudulent referendum. After Diệm was deposed in a military coup in 1963, there was a series of short-lived military governments. General Nguyễn Văn Thiệu led the country from 1967 until 1975. The Vietnam War began in 1959 with an uprising by Việt Cộng forces supplied by North Vietnam. Fighting climaxed during the Tết Offensive of 1968, when there were over 1.5 million South Vietnamese soldiers and 500,000 U.S. soldiers in South Vietnam. Despite a peace treaty concluded in January 1973, fighting continued until the North Vietnamese army overran Saigon on April 30, 1975. South Vietnam home to around 6 million Hindus & their descendants like Chams, Khmers and Degars saw major genocides by communists from North Vietnam such that after war and so many years in 2001 the population of Hindu descendants stood at 2.5 million in modern Vietnam.

Cochinchina: Nam Kỳ

Flag (1862 - 1948)

Capital: Saigon

Language(s): French, Vietnamese

Religions: Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam

Cochinchina is a region encompassing the southern third of Vietnam whose principal city is Saigon. It was a French colony from 1862 to 1948. The later state of South Vietnam was created in 1954 by combining Cochinchina with southern Annam. In Vietnamese, the region is called Nam Bộ. In French, it was called la colonie de Cochinchine. In the 17th century, Vietnam was divided between the Trịnh Lords to the north and the Nguyễn Lords to the south. The northern section was called Tonkin by Europeans, and the southern part called Cochinchina by most Europeans and Quinam by the Dutch. During the French colonial period, the label moved further south, and came to refer to the southernmost part of Vietnam, controlled by Cambodia in prior centuries, and lying to its southeast. Its capital was at Saigon. The two other parts of Vietnam at the time were known as Annam and Tonkin. The name "Cochin" derives from the Malay Kuchi which referred to all of Vietnam. This term was in turn derived from the Chinese jiao zhi, pronounced giao chỉ in Vietnam. "Cochinchina" derives from the need or desire to distinguish this Cochi/Kochi/Kuchi from the city (and princely state) of Kochi in India.

Annam (French protectorate): Trung Kỳ


Capital: Hue

Language(s): French, Vietnamese

Religions: Mahayana Buddhism, Confucianism

- Established : 1874
- Disestablished : 1949

Annam (Vietnamese: An Nam) was a French protectorate encompassing the central region of Vietnam. Vietnamese were subsequently referred to as "Annamites." Nationalists writers adopted the word "Vietnam" in the late 1920s. The general public embraced the word "Vietnam" during the revolution of August 1945. Since that time, the word "Annam" has been regarded as demeaning.

The region was seized by the French by 1874 and became part of French Indochina in 1887. Two other Vietnamese regions, Cochinchina (Nam Kỳ) in the South and Tonkin (Bắc Kỳ) in the North, were also units of French Indochina. The region had a dual system of French and Vietnamese administration. The Nguyễn Dynasty still nominally ruled Annam, with a puppet emperor residing in Huế. In 1949, the protectorate was merged in the newly-established State of Vietnam. The region was divided between communist North Vietnam and anti-communist South Vietnam under the terms of the Geneva Accord of 1954.

Army of the Republic of Vietnam:

Service Flag

{Tổ Quốc (Nation), Danh dự (Honor), Trách Nhiệm (Duty)}

The Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) was the land-based military forces of the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam), which existed from October 26, 1955 until the fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975. The ARVN is often erroneously used as a collective term to refer to all South Vietnamese military forces, including the Vietnam Air Force and Republic of Vietnam Navy. They are estimated to have suffered 1,394,000 casualties (killed and wounded) during the Vietnam War fighting alongside USA against Communist North Vietnam.
After the fall of Saigon and the communist victory, the ARVN was dissolved. While some members had fled the country to the United States or elsewhere, hundreds of thousands of former ARVN soldiers were sent to reeducation camps by the newly unified Vietnamese communist government.

Fall of Saigon: Part of Vietnam War

South Vietnamese refugees arrive on a U.S. Navy vessel during Operation Frequent Wind.

Date: 30 April 1975
Location: Saigon, South Vietnam (Republic of Vietnam)
North Vietnamese victory
• North Vietnamese conquest of South Vietnam
• Mass exodus of refugees
• Provisional Revolutionary Government (Vietcong) gains nominal authority in South Vietnam

North Vietnam
South Vietnam

Văn Tiến Dũng
Pham Van Dong (ARVN)
The Fall of Saigon was the capture of Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam, by the North Vietnamese Army on April 30, 1975. The event marked the end of the Vietnam War and the start of a transition period leading to the formal reunification of Vietnam under communist rule.

North Vietnamese forces under the command of the Senior General Văn Tiến Dũng began their final attack on Saigon, which was commanded by General Nguyen Van Toan on April 29, with a heavy artillery bombardment. By the afternoon of the next day, North Vietnamese troops had occupied the important points within the city and raised their flag over the South Vietnamese presidential palace. South Vietnam capitulated shortly after. The city was renamed Ho Chi Minh City, after communist leader Ho Chi Minh. The fall of the city was preceded by the evacuation of almost all the American civilian and military personnel in Saigon, along with tens of thousands of South Vietnamese civilians associated with the southern regime. The evacuation culminated in Operation Frequent Wind, which was the largest helicopter evacuation in history. In addition to the flight of refugees, the end of the war and institution of new rules by the communists contributed to a decline in the population of the city. Various names have been applied to the incident. Fall of Saigon is the most commonly used name in English, but also Liberation of Saigon is used. It has also been called Sự kiện 30 tháng 4 (April 30 Incident) or Giải phóng miền Nam (The liberation of the south) by the current Vietnamese government and Ngày mất nước (The day we lost our country/nation) or Ngày Quốc Hận (National Hatred Day) or Tháng Tư Đen (Black April) by anti-communist Vietnamese people overseas.

North Vietnamese advance:

The rapidity with which the South Vietnamese position collapsed in 1975 was surprising to most American and South Vietnamese observers, and probably to the North Vietnamese and their allies as well. For instance, a memo prepared by the CIA and Army Intelligence and published on 5 March indicated that South Vietnam could hold through the current dry season—i.e. at least until 1976. These predictions proved to be grievously in error. Even as that memo was being released, General Dung was preparing a major offensive in the Central Highlands of Vietnam, which began on 10 March and led to the capture of Ban Me Thuot. The ARVN began a disorderly and costly retreat, hoping to redeploy its forces and hold the southern part of South Vietnam, perhaps an enclave south of the 13th parallel. Supported by artillery and armor, the North Vietnamese continued to march towards Saigon, capturing the major cities of northern South Vietnam at the end of March—Huế on the 25th and Da Nang on the 28th. Along the way, disorderly South Vietnamese retreats and the flight of refugees—there were more than 300,000 in Da Nang—damaged South Vietnamese prospects for a turnaround. After the loss of Da Nang, those prospects had already been dismissed as nonexistent by American Central Intelligence Agency officers in Vietnam, who believed nothing short of B-52 strikes against Hanoi could possibly stop the North Vietnamese.

By 8 April, the North Vietnamese Politburo, which in March had recommended caution to Dung, cabled him to demand "unremitting vigor in the attack all the way to the heart of Saigon." On 14 April, they renamed the campaign the "Ho Chi Minh campaign," after revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh, in the hopes of wrapping it up before his birthday on 19 May. Meanwhile, South Vietnam failed to garner any significant increase in military aid from the United States, snuffing President Nguyen Van Thieu's hopes for renewed American support. On 9 April PAVN forces reached Xuan Loc, the last line of defense before Saigon, where the ARVN 18th Division made a last stand and held the city through fierce fighting for several days. The PAVN finally overran Xuan Loc on 20 April and on 21 April President Thiệu resigned in a tearful televised annoucement in which he denounced the United States for failing to come to the aid of the South. The North Vietnamese front line was now just 26 miles (42 km) from downtown Saigon. The victory at Xuan Loc, which had drawn many South Vietnamese troops away from the Mekong Delta area, opened the way for PAVN to encircle Saigon, and they soon did so, moving 100,000 troops in position around the city by 27 April. With the ARVN having many fewer defenders, the fate of the city was effectively sealed.


The rapid North Vietnamese advances of March and early April led to increased concern in Saigon that the city, which had been fairly peaceful throughout the war and whose people had endured relatively little suffering, was soon to come under direct attack. Many feared that once Communists took control of the city, a bloodbath of reprisals would take place. In 1968, PAVN and National Liberation Front (NLF) forces had occupied Hue for close to a month. After the Communists were repelled, American and ARVN forces had found mass graves. A study prepared for the U.S. mission in Vietnam indicated that the communists had targeted ARVN officers, Catholics, intellectuals and businessmen, and other suspected counterrevolutionaries. More recently, eight Americans captured in Ban Me Thout had vanished and reports of beheadings and other executions were filtering through from Hue and Da Nang, mostly spurred on by government propaganda. Most Americans and other Westerners wanted to evacuate the city before it fell, and most South Vietnamese wanted to leave as well. As early as the end of March, some Americans were leaving the city. For instance, ten families departed on March 31. Flights out of Saigon, lightly booked under ordinary circumstances, were full. Throughout April the speed of the evacuation increased, as the Defense Attaché's Office (DAO) began to fly out nonessential personnel. Many Americans attached to the DAO refused to leave without their Vietnamese friends and dependents, who included common-law wives and children. It was illegal for the DAO to move these people to American soil, and this initially slowed down the rate of departure, but eventually the DAO began illegally flying undocumented Vietnamese to Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines.

On 3 April, President Gerald R. Ford announced "Operation Babylift", which would evacuate about 2,000 orphans from the country. One of the C-5A Galaxy planes involved in the operation crashed, killing 138 passengers and seriously reducing the morale of the American staff. In addition to the 2,000 orphans evacuated by Babylift, Operation New Life resulted in the evacuation of over 110,000 Vietnamese refugees. By this time the Ford administration had also begun planning a complete evacuation of the American presence. Planning was complicated by practical, legal, and strategic concerns. The administration was divided on how swift the evacuations should be. The Pentagon sought to evacuate as fast as possible, to avoid the risk of casualties or other accidents. The U.S Ambassador to South Vietnam, Graham Martin, was technically the field commander for any evacuation, since evacuations are in the purview of the State Department. Martin drew the ire of many in the Pentagon by wishing to keep the evacuation process as quiet and orderly as possible. His desire for this was to prevent total chaos and to deflect the real possibility of South Vietnamese turning against Americans, and to keep all-out bloodshed from occurring. Ford approved a plan between the extremes in which all but 1,250 Americans—few enough to be removed in a single day's helicopter airlift—would be evacuated quickly; the remaining 1,250 would leave only when the airport was threatened. In between, as many Vietnamese refugees as possible would be flown out.
Meanwhile, Martin began (in his words) "playing fast and loose with exit visas" to allow any and all who wished to leave Saigon to depart by any means available in the early days. Without the Pentagon's knowledge, Martin and Deputy Chief of Mission Wolfgang Lehmann had already begun allowing thousands of South Vietnamese nationals to depart. American evacuation planning was set against other administration policies. Ford still hoped to gain additional military aid for South Vietnam. Throughout April, he attempted to get Congress behind a proposed appropriation of $722 million, which might allow for the reconstitution of some of the South Vietnamese forces that had been destroyed. Kissinger was opposed to a full-scale evacuation as long as the aid option remained on the table, because the removal of American forces would signal a loss of faith in Thieu and severely weaken him.

There was also concern in the administration over whether the use of military forces to support and carry out the evacuation was permitted under the newly-passed War Powers Act. Eventually White House lawyers determined that the use of American forces to rescue citizens in an emergency was unlikely to run afoul of the law, but the legality of using military assets to withdraw refugees was unknown. The evacuation of Saigon also had to compete for resources with the imminent evacuation of Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, which fell on 17 April. While American citizens were generally assured of a simple way to leave the country just by showing up to an evacuation point, South Vietnamese who wanted to leave Saigon before it fell often resorted to independent arrangements. The under-the-table payments required to gain a passport and exit visa jumped sixfold, and the price of seagoing vessels tripled. Those who owned property in the city were often forced to sell it at a substantial loss or abandon it altogether; the asking price of one particularly impressive house was cut 75 percent within a two-week period. American visas were of enormous value, and Vietnamese seeking American sponsors posted advertisements in newspapers. One such ad read: "Seeking adoptive parents. Poor diligent students:" followed by names, birthdates, and identity card numbers.

Political movements and attempts at a negotiated solution:

As the North Vietnamese chipped away more and more of South Vietnam, internal opposition to President Thieu continued to accumulate. For instance, in early April, the Senate unanimously voted through a call for new leadership, and some top military commanders were pressing for a coup. In response to this pressure, Thieu made some changes to his cabinet, and Prime Minister Tran Thien Khiem resigned. This did little to reduce the opposition to Thieu. On 8 April a South Vietnamese pilot bombed the presidential palace and then flew to a PAVN-controlled airstrip; Thieu was not hurt. Many in the American mission—Martin in particular—along with some key figures in Washington believed that negotiations with the Communists were possible, especially if Saigon could stabilize the military situation. Ambassador Martin's hope was that North Vietnam's leaders would be willing to allow a "phased withdrawal" whereby a gradual departure might be achieved in order to allow helpful locals and all Americans to leave (along with full military withdrawal) over a period of months.

Opinions were divided on whether any government headed by Thieu could effect such a political solution. The Provisional Revolutionary Government's foreign minister had on 2 April indicated that the PRG might negotiate with a Saigon government that did not include Thieu. Thus, even among Thieu's supporters, pressure was growing for his ouster. President Thieu resigned on 21 April. His remarks were particularly hard on the Americans, first for forcing South Vietnam to accede to the Paris Peace Accords, second for failing to support South Vietnam afterwards, and all the while asking South Vietnam "to do an impossible thing, like filling up the oceans with stones." The presidency was turned over to Vice President Tran Van Huong. The Communist line, broadcast by Radio Hanoi, was that the new regime was merely "another puppet regime."

Last days:
On 27 April, Saigon was hit by three NVA rockets – the first in more than 40 months.

Operation Frequent Wind:

A Marine provides security as helicopters land at the DAO compound.

Before daybreak on 29 April, Tan Son Nhat airport was hit by rockets and heavy artillery. In the initial shelling, C-130E, 72-1297, c/n 4519, of the 314th Tactical Airlift Wing, and flown by a crew from the 374th Tactical Airlift Wing out of Clark Air Base, Philippines, was destroyed by a rocket while taxiing to pick up evacuees. The crew evacuated the burning aircraft on the taxiway and departed the airfield on another C-130 that had previously landed. The continuing rocket fire and debris on the runways caused General Homer D. Smith, the U.S. defense attaché in Saigon, to advise Ambassador Martin that the runways were unfit for use and that the emergency evacuation of Saigon would need to be completed by helicopter. Originally, Ambassador Martin had fully intended to effect the evacuation by use of fixed-wing aircraft from the base. This plan was altered at a critical time when a South Vietnamese pilot decided to defect, and jettisoned his ordnance along the only runways still in use (which had not yet been destroyed by shelling). Under pressure from Kissinger, Martin forced Marine guards to take him to the air base in the midst of continued shelling, so he might personally ascertain the situation. After seeing that fixed-wing departures were not an option (a mammoth decision Martin did not want to make without firsthand responsibility in case the helicopter lift failed), Martin gave the green light for the helicopter evacuation to begin in earnest.
Reports came in from the outskirts of the city that the North Vietnamese were moving. At 10:48 a.m (Saigon Time), Martin relayed to Kissinger his desire to activate "the FREQUENT WIND" evacuation plan; Kissinger gave the order three minutes later. The American radio station began regular play of Irving Berlin's "White Christmas," the signal for American personnel to move immediately to the evacuation points. Under this plan, CH-53 and CH-46 helicopters were used to evacuate Americans and friendly Vietnamese to ships, including the Seventh Fleet, in the South China Sea. The main evacuation point was the DAO Compound at Tan Son Nhut; buses moved through the city picking up passengers and driving them out to the airport, with the first buses arriving at Tan Son Nhut shortly after noon. The first CH-53 landed at the DAO compound in the afternoon, and by the evening, 395 Americans and more than 4,000 Vietnamese had been evacuated. By 23:00 the U.S. Marines who were providing security were withdrawing and arranging the demolition of the DAO office, American equipment, files, and cash. Air America UH-1s also participated in the evacuation.

Reeducation camp:
Reeducation camp (trại học tập cải tạo) like Camp 22 in North Korea & Laogai in China are Communists Gulags or the prison camps operated by the government of Vietnam following the end of the Vietnam War. In such "reeducation camps", the government imprisoned several hundred thousand former military officers and government workers from the former regime of South Vietnam. Reeducation as it was implemented in Vietnam was seen both as a means of revenge and a sophisticated technique of repression and indoctrination which developed for several years in the North and was extended to the South following the 1975 North Vietnam takeover.

After the fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975, hundreds of thousands of South Vietnamese men, from former officers in the armed forces, to religious leaders, to employees of the Americans or the old government, were rounded up in reeducation camps to "learn about the ways of the new government." They were never tried or convicted of any crime. Many South Vietnamese men chose to flee on boats, but others had established lives in Vietnam, so did not flee but entered these camps in hopes of quickly reconciling with the new government and continuing their lives.

Officially, the Vietnamese government does not consider the reeducation camps prisons, but rather places where individuals could be rehabilitated into society through education and socially constructive labor. The Hanoi regime defended the reeducation camps by placing the "war criminal" label on the prisoners. A 1981 memorandum of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam to Amnesty International claimed that all those in the reeducation camps were guilty of acts of national treason as defined in Article 3 of the 30 October 1967 Law on Counter-revolutionary Crimes (enacted for the government of North Vietnam) which specifies punishment of 20 years to life imprisonment or the death penalty. But, it was instead allowing the prisoners to experience "reeducation" which "as applied in Vietnam is the most humanitarian system, and the most advantageous for law offenders.

During the early phase of reeducation, lasting from a few weeks to a few months, inmates were subjected to intensive political indoctrination. Subjects' studies included the exploitation by "American imperialism" of workers in other countries, the glory of labor, the inevitable victory of Vietnam, led by the Communist Party, over the U.S., and the generosity of the new government toward the "rebels" (those who fought on the other side during the war). Another feature emphasized during the early stage of reeducation, but continued throughout one's imprisonment, was the confession of one's alleged misdeeds in the past. All prisoners in the camps were required to write confessions, no matter how trivial their alleged crimes might have been. Mail clerks, for example, were told that they were guilty of aiding the "puppet war machinery" through circulating the mail, while religious chaplains were found guilty of providing spiritual comfort and encouragement to enemy troops.

In the reeducation camps much emphasis was placed on "productive labor." Such labor was described by SRV spokesman Hoang Son as "absolutely necessary" for reeducation because "under the former regime, they (the prisoners) represented the upper strata of society and got rich under U.S. patronage. They could scorn the working people. Now the former social order has been turned upside down, and after they have finished their stay in camps they have to earn their living by their own labour and live in a society where work is held in honor." Thus, in the eyes of the Vietnamese rulers, "productive labor" was a necessary aspect in the overturning of the social order. Yet in examining the conditions under which this labor took place, it seems that there was also an element of revenge. The labor was mostly hard physical work, some of it very dangerous, such as mine field sweeping. No technical equipment was provided for this extremely risky work, and as a result, many prisoners were killed or wounded in mine field explosions. Other kinds of work included cutting trees, planting corn and root crops, clearing the jungle, digging wells, latrines and garbage pits, and constructing barracks within the camp and fences around it. The inmates were generally organized into platoons and work units, where they were forced to compete with each other for better records and work achievements. This often pushed inmates to exhaustion and nervousness with each person and group striving to surpass or at least fulfill the norms set by camp authorities, or they would be classified as 'lazy' and ordered to do 'compensation work' on Sundays. Sometimes prisoners who missed their quota were shackled and placed in solitary confinement cells.

In June 1976, the Provisional Revolutionary Government of South Vietnam, in one of its last policy announcements before the official reunification of Vietnam, stated that those in the camps would either be tried or released after three years of imprisonment. But this promise was broken. The policy announced that those still in the camps would stay there for three years, but would be released early if they made "real progress, confess their crimes and score merits". Since there were no clear criteria for releasing the inmates from the camps, bribery and family connections with high-ranking officials were more likely to speed up release than the prisoner's good behavior. Released prisoners were put on probation and placed under surveillance for six months to one year, and during that time they had no official status, no exit visas, no access to government food rations and no right to send their children to school. If the progress of the former prisoners was judged unsatisfactory during this period, they could be fired from their jobs, put under surveillance for another six months to a year, or sent back to the reeducation camps. Faced with these challenges, many chose to flee the country and became boat people. Some prisoners who have been imprisoned since the Fall of Saigon, have been released as recently as the year 2000. The U.S. government considers reeducation camp inmates to be political prisoners. In 1989, the Reagan administration entered into an agreement with the Vietnamese government, pursuant to which Vietnam would free all former RVN soldiers and officials held in reeducation camps and allow them to emigrate to the United States. Thus began the third large influx of Vietnamese immigrants into the country.

Vietnamese boat people:

A family of boat people rescued by an American Navy ship

Events resulting from the Vietnam War led many people in Cambodia, Laos, and especially Vietnam to become refugees in the late 1970s and 1980s, after the fall of Saigon. In Vietnam, the new communist government sent many people who supported the old government in the South to "re-education camps", and others to "new economic zones." An estimated 1 million people were imprisoned without formal charges or trials. According to published academic studies in the United States and Europe, 165,000 people died in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam's re-education camps. Thousands were abused or tortured. These factors, coupled with poverty and the total destruction of the country that happened during the Vietnam war, caused hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese to flee the country. In 1979, Vietnam was at war (Sino-Vietnamese War) with the People's Republic of China (PRC). Many ethnic Chinese living in Vietnam, who felt that the government's policies directly targeted them, also became "boat people." On the open seas, the boat people had to confront forces of nature, and elude pirates.

Rescued Vietnamese boat people being given water

There were many different ways people used to leave the country. Most were secret; some involved the bribing of officials. Some people bought places in large boats that held 400 passengers. Others organized smaller groups. Many families were split up during this period because they could only afford to send one or a few members of the family. One method used involved middle-class refugees from Saigon, armed with forged identity documents, traveling 1,100 kms to Danang by road. On arrival, they would take refuge for up to two days in safe houses while waiting for fishing junks and trawlers to take small groups into international waters.[ Planning for such a trip took many months and even years. Although these attempts often depleted resources, people usually had several false starts before they managed to escape. The boats, most not intended for navigating open waters, would typically head for busy international shipping lanes some 240 km to the east. The lucky ones would succeed in being rescued by freighters and taken to Hong Kong, some 2,200 km away. Others landed on the shores of Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, and Hong Kong. The unlucky ones would face a two-week long or even 6-month perilous journey in rickety craft; stopping every now and again in Chinese shores, suffering hunger and thirst. The plight of the boat people became an international humanitarian crisis. There were untold miseries, rapes and murders on the South China Sea committed by Thai pirates who preyed on the refugees who had sold all their possessions and carried gold with them on the trips. The UNHCR, under the auspices of the United Nations, set up refugee camps in neighbouring countries to process the "boat people". They received the 1981 Nobel Peace Prize for this. Camps were set up in Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Hong Kong, and Indonesia. According to stories told by the Vietnamese refugees, the conditions at the camps were poor. The women and children were raped and beaten. Very little of the aid money donated primarily by the United States actually got to the refugees. In Israel, the Vietnamese immigrations represent a change in transformation in the Israeli conception, one that saw the Jewish state as the state of the Jews with a Jewish majority. Even though the absorption of hundreds of Vietnamese did not change the political map in Israel, the absorption of the Vietnamese still constituted a change of civil identity in the state of Israel who take in non-Jewish refugees.
Hong Kong adopted the "port of first asylum policy," and received over 100,000 Vietnamese at the peak of emigration in the late 1980s. Many refugee camps were set up in its territories. Frequent violent clashes between the boat people and security forces caused public outcry and mounting concerns in the early 1990s since many camps were very close to high-density residential areas. In Australia, the Fraser Government took what might be considered the final step in ending the White Australia policy by letting more than 100,000 Indochinese refugees to immigrate at a quick pace. The countries that accepted most of the Indochinese refugees were:
• United States - 823,000
• Australia and Canada - 137,000 each
• France - 96,000
• Germany - 40,000
• United Kingdom - 19,000

Camp 22:
Camp 22 is a North Korean prison for political prisoners, who are in fact family members of accused North Koreans. Camp 22 is known as: Kwan-li-so No.22 Haengyong. 'Kwan-li-so' is Korean for 'holding place'. It is located in north-east North Korea, on the border with Russia and China, 20 km from the city of Hoeryong. On all available maps the camp carries no name like villages. This camp is surrounded by the following villages: Wŏn-dong, Ssŏgŭndari, Kulsal-li, Haengyŏng-ni (headquarters of the camp), Naksaeng-ni and Chungch’u-dong. Its location is: 42°34'29"N, 129°53'3"E. Its existence is denied by the North Korean government.

Laogai the abbreviation for Láodòng Gǎizào which means "reform through labor," is a slogan of the Chinese criminal justice system and has been used to refer to the use of prison labor and prison farms in the People's Republic of China (PRC). It is estimated that in the last 50 years more than 50 million people have been sent to laogai camps as political prisoners. Laogai is distinguished from laojiao, or re-education through labor, which is an administrative detention for a person who is not a criminal but has committed minor offenses, and is intended to reform offenders into law-abiding citizens. Persons detained under laojiao are detained in facilities which are separate from the general prison system of laogai. Both systems, however, involve penal labor.

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