The Acts of the Democracies
Years : ALL
Victim Country : Vietnam
30 Items Selected
After Japan surrenders, the Vietnamese declare independence and make Hanoi their capital. They hope for USA support against their former colonisers, basing their new constitution on that of the USA and requesting support and aid from the USA president Harry Truman.
UK troops arrive in Saigon from Burma. They aim to restore French colonial rule. They re-arm the Japanese troops and use them to drive the north Vietnamese government out of Saigon and the south. The French re-establish colonial rule in the south and set up a government in South Vietnam with Bao Dai as emperor.
The USA and UK recognise the government of South Vietnam (set up against the wishes of the Vietnamese people by France). The USSR and China recognise the government in North Vietnam (set up by the Vietnamese themselves in areas liberated from French rule).
The world now has two Germanys, two Chinas, two Koreas and two Vietnams each backed by one of the power blocks!
The French are defeated by Vietnam forces and forced to withdraw. The USA helps France militarily then takes over the French role in Vietnam. The big powers (USA, France, USSR, China) officially agree to partition Vietnam into two separate states regardless of the wishes of the people.
An agreement is proposed to allow for a referendum in 1956 to decide the future of the country. The USA refuses to agree to this knowing that over 80% of the population want reunification with the north.
Between 1945 and 1954, French forces killed over 300,000 Vietnamese.
The USA continue their support of the south. President Dwight Eisenhower, admits that "had elections been held, possibly 80% of the population would have voted for Ho Chi Minh, the communist leader".
Villagers are moved into fenced off camps. Chemical defoliants are sprayed into the jungle. These are later found to contain Dioxin. This is a cancer producing chemical that causes genetic mutations in children, who are born deformed or with parts of their bodies missing. No compensation has ever been paid.
The USA, shaken because the immolation had been televised around the world, gives approval for a military coup that topples Ngo Dinh Diem (whom they had put into power in 1955). The ousted leaders are killed in cold blood. The South Vietnamese do not get a chance to vote for their leader.
Seven more monks commit suicide in the ancient Vietnamese capital, Hue.
"Like most students I hated the American backed regime, especially for bringing a foreign army to Vietnam. It is true I did work for the NLF and I was prepared to fight for them. We all respected them. The police demanded that I hand over NLF names; when I refused I was strung upside down and electrocuted, and my head was held in a bucket of water. Then I was sent to Cong Song Island and put in what they called the tiger cages. You couldn't stand up in them and, anyway, my legs were shackled; and every day they threw quicklime down on me. They had a place that was full of cow and pig excrement, and for no reason they'd put you in it and leave you. This was known as the coffin."
The USA CIA sets up Operation Phoenix which uses torture on opponents: electric shock to genitals, insertion of implements into ears, and throwing victims out of helicopters.
In 1983, a specialist in CIA propaganda, Ralph McGehee, would admit that the evidence of communist weapons running that was the excuse for the troops being deployed was faked by the CIA.
Many villages are destroyed. TV pictures of American soldiers casually setting fire to huts while distressed villagers look on disturb the USA public. Student and Buddhist led demonstrators in Saigon demand the end of the military government in South Vietnam. Vietnamese troops brutally suppress dissent.
The coal mining town of Hongai becomes the most bombed place in Vietnam. Carrier based planes bomb the town continuously from 7am until 5pm every day. This causes 10% of the town's children to become deaf.
In the USA, David Lawrence, editor of US News & World Report, writes:
"What the United States is doing in Vietnam is the most significant example of philanthropy extended by one people to another that we have witnessed in our times."
Most Western countries tacitly support USA actions in Vietnam.
The Australian journalist, John Pilger visits a hospital in Can Tho in the Mekong Delta. A region bombed heavily by USA B-52 bombers:
"'I guess he's around ten years old,' said the young American doctor, a volunteer. Before us was a child whose nose and chin had merged, whose eyes apparently could not close and whose skin, once brown, was now red and black and papery, like frayed cloth. 'Beats me how these kids live through all that shit out there,' says the doctor, 'This one's been burned with Napalm B. That's the stuff made from benzene, polystyrene and gasoline. It sticks to the body and is impossible to get off, and either burns the victim to death or suffocates him by using up all the oxygen.'"
The CIA runs Operation Phoenix to identify and kill alleged resistance leaders operating in Vietnamese villages. About 20,000 people are killed.
More than 200 civilians are blown up with grenades, bayoneted and shot. Several young girls are raped before being killed. The killings take four hours including a lunch break next to a pile of corpses. The only American casualty is a soldier who shoots himself in the foot. Some of the victims had been mutilated by having "C Company" carved onto their chests.
One woman, Truong Thi Le, survives under the bodies of her relatives, including nine children. She tells her story to a journalist:
"It was 6 o'clock in the morning. Suddenly this helicopter was manoeuvring above the house, then we saw soldiers come across the fields. They ordered all the families out and told us to march towards the ditch. If we walked too slowly, they prodded us with their guns. We came to an assembly point and huddled together; then they shot us one by one. I saw a little boat and used it cover my son, and dead bodies fell down on me. I kept telling my son, who was six years old, 'Please don't cry. They will hear us if you do.'"
"When the Americans had finished and walked away, I waited, then stood up with my boy; I felt I was walking in the sky; I didn't have any kind of feelings. I was covered in blood and pieces of human brain, which smelt terrible. On the way back we had to walk in the field because the pathway was covered with bodies; I saw a mother die here, children there. They even killed the ox and buffaloes. When we reached our home, it was burned down. It was only then I realised a bullet [had] passed right through me, but I was still alive; I was alive."
One of the soldiers later states:
"You didn't have to look for people to kill, they were just there. I cut their throats, cut off their hands, cut out their tongues, scalped them. I did it. A lot of people were doing it and I just followed. I just lost all sense of direction."
Although there are over 600 reporters in Vietnam and the massacre becomes known to them, it takes over a year for the story to be published. It eventually appears on the cover of the USA magazine, Newsweek with the headline "An American Tragedy".
Several years later, there is a court martial but most of the perpetrators of the massacre are never punished and those that are receive short sentences.
My Lai lies in Quang Ngai Province. The USA had declared this area a free fire zone (meaning that they could shoot at anything that moved). When My Lai was attacked, 70% of all villages and hamlets in the province had already been razed.
|Over 200 civilians are killed by USA soldiers in the village of My Lai. The media held the story for months before it became public knowledge. Colin Powell, later in the USA government, was involved in the cover-up.|
There are now half a million USA troops in Vietnam. Civilians are being killed at the rate of 50,000 every year. There is so much destruction in South Vietnam that one soldier says of a town in the Mekong Delta: "we had to destroy it to save it"!
Civilians living in houses made of straw and tin are bombed by USA B-52 bombers. Many are attacked with napalm. This is a substance made from benzene, polystyrene and gasoline that catches fire and sticks to flesh. The victim is either burned to death or suffocated by lack of oxygen.
One terrified little girl is photographed running naked after her village has been attacked with napalm. Images like this put pressure on the USA and it agrees to stop bombing North Vietnam.
Children running after a napalm attack. The girl in the centre has had her clothes and part of her skin burnt off.
This photograph showed the people of the USA what their government was doing in Vietnam and helped turn public opinion.
The USA government bans the use of Agent Orange (a defoliant containing dioxin) on American farmlands. The USA military continues to use the chemical in Vietnam to remove the jungle cover form its enemies. It is sprayed over large areas of the country by C-130 aircraft.
|The USA uses chemical warfare against Vietnam when Agent Orange is sprayed to defoliate vast areas of the country. The USA has since failed to abide by the terms of treaties controlling the use of chemical weapons.|
Dioxin is a poison that causes miscarriages, foetal death, chromosome damage, deformities and cancer. In Vietnam the chemical has produced babies born without eyes, with deformed hearts, with mis-shapen heads, with small brains, and with missing limbs. Over 2 million Vietnamese are affected as well as thousands of American soldiers. Over 50,000 children have been born with these types of deformities in Vietnam. Cases of chorioncarcinoma (cancer of the pregnancy) are common.
Dr Pham Viet Thanh of the Tu Bu hospital reports that requests for help to Germany, UK, Japan and the USA in dealing with these medical conditions are ignored or refused.
|Over 50,000 children are born deformed after the USA uses Agent Orange over Vietnam. Agent Orange contains the poison Dioxin which causes mutations in fetuses. No compensation has ever been paid.|
The USA sprays CS Gas into Vietnamese tunnels and caves causing thousands of people to choke to death on their own vomit. Women and children are among the victims. Other symptoms include destroyed eyeballs, blistered faces and scorched skin.
Cyrus Vance, the USA Secretary of Defence, admits that cyanide and arsenic are also being used along with napalm (which sticks to the skin while it burns) and naphthalene flame throwers.
The USA magazine Newsweek holds the story for 6 months before publishing it.
USA warships blockade North Vietnamese ports.
During the various USA bombing campaigns in Vietnam (as well as Cambodia and Laos), over 3,000,000 civilians have died. Over 300,000 soldiers are "missing in action" (MIA).
58,022 Americans were killed in Vietnam.
USA movies tend to show the conflict as an American tragedy with the local people as background. The Vietnamese are referred to as gooks, dinks, and slopes. Soldiers of the National Liberation Front which defeated the world's mightiest superpower are given the name Vietcong or called Indians.
Media articles describe the USA invasion of Vietnam as involvement.
In 1973, USA president, Richard Nixon had signed a secret cease fire agreement with Pham Van Dong, the Prime Minister of the Vietnam government in Hanoi. In this agreement, the USA had agreed to pay $3,250 million in reparations at the end of the war. The money would be used to rebuild Vietnam after 30 years of war against Japan (1940 to 1945), the UK (1945), France (1945 to 1954) and the USA (1954 to 1975).
None of this money has ever been paid. Instead the USA freezes Vietnamese assets of $70 million and later sets up a blockade against the country. Under USA pressure, the World Bank suspends a grant for irrigation that would have increased food capacity.
The USA had used chemical warfare on Vietnam by spraying Agent Orange over large areas. This defoliant contains dioxin which produces cancers and birth defects. Over 50,000 children had been affected. The USA has never paid compensation for health problems produced.
Instead, in 1997, Vietnam would begin to pay the USA $145,000,000 of debts incurred by the USA backed government of South Vietnam after pressure from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
Vietnam had been a French colony before World War II. The country had been occupied by the Japanese during the War. France regained control of the southern part of the country after 1945 but were finally ejected in 1954 when the USA took control of the south. After a long and bitter war, the USA were ejected in 1975 and the country re-united. The separate parts of the country had attempted to join the United Nations during 1976 but the USA vetoed 4 resolutions denying them entry.
The USA blockade of Vietnam is criticised by Telford Taylor, the chief USA prosecutor in the Nuremberg Trials (of Nazi Germany after World War II). He writes:
"We have smashed the country to bits and [we] will not even take the trouble to clean up the blood and rubble. Somehow we have failed to learn the lessons we undertook to teach at Nuremberg."
The first aid to be affected is seed processing and storage and help with setting up a bee keeping unit to provide honey as a food supplement for young children in Vietnam.
In defiance, the USA administration continues to send arms to the Khmer Rouge via Singapore.
The Khmer Rouge is trained to destabilise Cambodia and neighbouring Vietnam. The force is trained by the UK. A Ministry of Defence official tells Simon O'Dwyer-Russell of the UK newspaper, the Sunday Telegraph:
"If [USA's] Congress had found out that Americans were mixed up in clandestine training in Indochina, let alone with Pol Pot, the balloon would have gone right up. It was one of those classic Thatcher-Reagan arrangements. It was put to her that the SAS should take over the Cambodia show, and she agreed."
Using World Trade Organisation (WTO) regulations, an attempt is made to force Asian countries like India and Bangladesh to use these plants. This would make the farmers dependent on having to buy the seeds every year. Public pressure rejects the biotechnology.
Monsanto is one of a group of companies that pushes the WTO to legislate for Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs). These would allow the patenting of products from the natural world. The provisions would make it illegal for farmers to plant seeds that they have used for hundreds of years unless they pay royalties to the patent holders. Even human DNA has been considered for patenting. Many countries fear TRIPs because they see it as biopiracy or biocolonialism.
UK biologist, Mae Won Ho, has stated that Western companies want to use poorer countries: "as resevoirs of biological and genetic resources to develop new crops, drugs, biopesticides, oils and cosmetics."
The Neem tree in India (Azadirachta Indica) has been used for centuries as a medicine and biopesticide. The Indian Patents Act of 1970 forbids the patenting of inventions relating to agricultural processes. USA companies (like W R Grace) are pressing for a WTO ruling to over-ride Indian law and allow patents of substances derived from the Neem tree.
Monsanto's attempts to sell genetically modified (GM) soya to Europe meets public resistance even after USA threats of WTO action against Europe. The Europeans want to segregate and label GM foods; the USA opposes this. Consumers International notes:
"One of the ironies of this issue is the contrast between the enthusiasm of food producers to claim that their biologically engineered products are different and unique when they seek to patent them and their similar enthusiasm for claiming that they are just the same as other foods when asked to label them."
Monsanto was responsible for producing Agent Orange which contained the carcinogen (cancer producer), dioxin. This was used by the USA in Vietnam. Since the 1960s, 500,000 Vietnamese children have been born with dioxin-related deformaties; no compensation has ever been paid.
The USA Vice President, Al Gore, puts pressure on South Africa not to use cheap generic AIDS drugs. Their use would have eaten into the profits of USA companies. South Africa has 3 million people who are HIV Positive and the population is impoverished. Al Gore has links to the drug industry.
Workers cannot go to the toilet more than once per 8 hour shift and they cannot drink water more than twice per shift. Workers commonly faint from exhaustion, heat, fumes and poor nutrition during their shifts. Health care is inadequate. At the Sam Yang factory, with 6000 employees, one doctor works only two hours a day but the factory operates 20 hours a day. Night shift employees do not have any on-site medical emergency services.
Abuse of workers is rife: 15 Vietnamese women tell CBS News (USA television) that they were hit over the head by their supervisor for poor sewing, two were hospitalised. Another 45 women are forced by their supervisors to kneel down with their hands up in the air for 25 minutes.
100 workers at the Pouchen factory, a Nike site in Dong Nai, are forced to stand in the sun for half an hour for spilling a tray of fruit on an altar with which three Taiwanese supervisors were using. One employee (Nguyen Minh Tri) walks out after 18 minutes, and is dismissed. 56 women at the same factory are forced to run around the factory grounds. 12 of them faint and are taken to hospital.
A Nike plant supervisor from Korea flees Vietnam after being accused of sexually molesting several women workers. Many women workers have complained to Vietnam Labour Watch about frequent sexual harassment from foreign supervisors. Even in broad daylight, in front of other workers, these supervisors try to touch, rub or grab their buttocks or chests. One supervisor told a female factory worker that it is a common custom for men in his country to greet women they like by grabbing their behinds.
Nike uses subcontractors in Vietnam so that it can legally evade responsibility for local conditions. However, the company dictates the price of shoes and also the cost of operation to its subcontractors. This forces them to set high quotas for their workers and to pay low wages. It has been estimated that the labour cost involved in making one pair of Nike shoes is only $3. These may then sell for over $100 in the USA and Europe.
Other plants utilising cheap labour are in China, Indonesia, Thailand, Taiwan, and South Korea. Nike, admits to its shareholders that it has used child labour in Vietnam as well as in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Cambodia.
Philip Knight, the founder of Nike, is reputed to be worth $5,400 million. The 1992 promotional fee to basketball player, Michael Jordan was $20 million, more than was paid to the workforce in Indonesia making Nike products.
|Ginni, an 8 year old girl in the Punjab region of India making footballs (soccer balls) for export to Italy.|
She earns $20 per month.
Dioxin is linked to respiratory and reproductive problems (including birth defects and miscarriages), cancer, diabetes and other conditions. It is estimated that up to 4 million Vietnamese people suffered from being poisoned by Dioxin. Around $ 300 million has been paid to USA troops who fought in the Vietnam-USA War (1954 - 1975) and were affected by Dioxin but nothing has been paid to the Vietnamese victims.
The documents detail 320 incidents that were substantiated by Army investigators - not including the most notorious USA atrocity, the 1968 My Lai massacre. Though not a complete record of USA war crimes in Vietnam, the archive is the largest collection available. Its 9,000 pages include investigative files, sworn statements by witnesses and status reports for top military personnel.
In addition to the 320 substantiated incidents, the records contain material related to more than 500 alleged atrocities that Army investigators could not prove or that they discounted.
Two of these accounts are described below:"In a letter to Westmoreland in 1970, an anonymous sergeant described widespread, unreported killings of civilians by members of the 9th Infantry Division in the Mekong Delta -- and blamed pressure from superiors to generate high body counts. 'A batalion [sic] would kill maybe 15 to 20 [civilians] a day. With 4 batalions in the brigade that would be maybe 40 to 50 a day or 1200 to 1500 a month, easy,' the unnamed sergeant wrote. 'If I am only 10% right, and believe me it's lots more, then I am trying to tell you about 120-150 murders, or a My Lay [sic] each month for over a year.'
A high-level Army review of the letter cited its 'forcefulness', 'sincerity' and 'inescapable logic', and urged then-Secretary of the Army Stanley R. Resor to make sure the push for verifiable body counts did not 'encourage the human tendency to inflate the count by violating established rules of engagement.'
Investigators tried to find the letter writer and "prevent his complaints from reaching" then-Rep. Ronald V. Dellums (D-Oakland), according to an August 1971 memo to Westmoreland. The records do not say whether the writer was located, and there is no evidence in the files that his complaint was investigated further.""James D. 'Jamie' Henry was 19 in March 1967, when the Army shaved his hippie locks and packed him off to boot camp. He had been living with his mother in Sonoma County, working as a hospital aide and moonlighting as a flower child in Haight-Ashbury, when he received a letter from his draft board. As thousands of hippies poured into San Francisco for the upcoming 'Summer of Love', Henry headed for Fort Polk, La.
Soon he was on his way to Vietnam, part of a 100,000 man influx that brought USA troop strength to 485,000 by the end of 1967. They entered a conflict growing ever bloodier for Americans - 9,378 USA troops would die in combat in 1967, 87% more than the year before.
Henry was a medic with B Company of the 1st Battalion, 35th Infantry, 4th Infantry Division. He described his experiences in a sworn statement to Army investigators several years later and in recent interviews with The Times.
In the fall of 1967, he was on his first patrol, marching along the edge of a rice paddy in Quang Nam province, when the soldiers encountered a teenage girl. 'The guy in the lead immediately stops her and puts his hand down her pants', Henry said. 'I just thought, My God, what's going on?' A day or two later, he saw soldiers senselessly stabbing a pig.
'I talked to them about it, and they told me if I wanted to live very long, I should shut my mouth', he told Army investigators. Henry may have kept his mouth shut, but he kept his eyes and ears open.
On October 8, 1967, after a firefight near Chu Lai, members of his company spotted a 12-year-old boy out in a rainstorm. He was unarmed and clad only in shorts. 'Somebody caught him up on a hill, and they brought him down and the lieutenant asked who wanted to kill him', Henry told investigators. Two volunteers stepped forward. One kicked the boy in the stomach. The other took him behind a rock and shot him, according to Henry's statement. They tossed his body in a river and reported him as an enemy combatant killed in action. Three days later, B Company detained and beat an elderly man suspected of supporting the enemy. He had trouble keeping pace as the soldiers marched him up a steep hill. 'When I turned around, two men had him, one guy had his arms, one guy had his legs and they threw him off the hill onto a bunch of rocks', Henry's statement said.
On October 15, some of the men took a break during a large-scale 'search-and-destroy' operation. Henry said he overheard a lieutenant on the radio requesting permission to test-fire his weapon, and went to see what was happening. He found two soldiers using a Vietnamese man for target practice, Henry said. They had discovered the victim sleeping in a hut and decided to kill him for sport. 'Everybody was taking pot shots at him, seeing how accurate they were', Henry said in his statement.
Back at base camp on October 23, he said, members of the 1st Platoon told him they had ambushed five unarmed women and reported them as enemies killed in action. Later, members of another platoon told him they had seen the bodies.Captain Donald C. Reh, a 1964 graduate of West Point, took command of B Company in November 1967. Two months later, enemy forces launched a major offensive during Tet, the Vietnamese lunar New Year. In the midst of the fighting, on February 7, the commander of the 1st Battalion, Lt. Col. William W. Taylor Jr., ordered an assault on snipers hidden in a line of trees in a rural area of Quang Nam province. Five USA soldiers were killed. The troops complained bitterly about the order and the deaths, Henry said.
The next morning, the men packed up their gear and continued their sweep of the countryside. Soldiers discovered an unarmed man hiding in a hole and suspected that he had supported the enemy the previous day. A soldier pushed the man in front of an armored personnel carrier, Henry said in his statement. 'They drove over him forward which didn't kill him because he was squirming around, so the APC backed over him again', Henry's statement said.
Then B Company entered a hamlet to question residents and search for weapons. That's where Henry set down his weapon and lighted a cigarette in the shelter of a hut. A radio operator sat down next to him, and Henry was listening to the chatter. He heard the leader of the 3rd Platoon ask Reh for instructions on what to do with 19 civilians. 'The lieutenant asked the captain what should be done with them. The captain asked the lieutenant if he remembered the op order (operation order) that came down that morning and he repeated the order which was - kill anything that moves', Henry said in his statement. 'I was a little shook ... because I thought the lieutenant might do it'.
Henry said he left the hut and walked toward Reh. He saw the captain pick up the phone again, and thought he might rescind the order. Then soldiers pulled a naked woman of about 19 from a dwelling and brought her to where the other civilians were huddled, Henry said. 'She was thrown to the ground', he said in his statement. 'The men around the civilians opened fire and all on automatic or at least it seemed all on automatic. It was over in a few seconds. There was a lot of blood and flesh and stuff flying around....'
'I looked around at some of my friends and they all just had blank looks on their faces.... The captain made an announcement to all the company, I forget exactly what it was, but it didn't concern the people who had just been killed. We picked up our stuff and moved on'.
Henry didn't forget, however. 'Thirty seconds after the shooting stopped', he said, 'I knew that I was going to do something about it'."
Other crimes reported include