March 11, 2005

On the list of the world's most repressive regimes...

Claudia Rosett has a splendid piece about a phone conversation she had with Nguyen Dan Que, a dissident in Vietnam, who has spent much of his life in prison...

..It is important for the world to understand that in saying such things, Dr., Que knows all too well the risk he is taking. Back in 1975, as Saigon fell, he had a chance to leave--and turned it down. Even today, he says, "For me, exile is not freedom." Instead, for more than 30 years he has seized every chance to speak out and demand liberty for his country. For that, under Vietnam's communist regime, he has paid dearly--spending more than 20 years in labor camps and prisons. Released on two previous occasions, due to international pressure, Dr. Que seized the chance each time to again demand freedom for Vietnam's people. Twice, the regime jailed him again, most recently in March 2003--an outrage that was swamped at the time by the flood of news from Iraq, as the U.S.-led coalition went in to overthrow Saddam Hussein.

And though it is cause for immediate rejoicing that Dr. Que has been released, it is not yet a sign that Vietnam's brutal regime is easing up. "It's likely that I was just transferred from a smaller prison to a bigger one," he says. His release looks more like a matter of hostage politics, as Hanoi's regime haggles with Washington over Vietnam's recent designation by the U.S. as a "country of particular concern" for being what Human Rights Watch calls "one of the worst violators of religious rights in the word." Vietnam also makes Freedom House's short list of the world's most repressive regimes. The prisons of Vietnam are infamous for torture, beatings and filthy conditions. Dr. Que notes that after his latest bout in which he was imprisoned incommunicado for two years, he is "tired out....

"infamous for torture, beatings and filthy conditions..." This is the lovely regime that people like John Kerry, Walter Cronkite, Dan Rather, and all the 60's radicals and war-protesters helped give the world. Millions murdered, millions imprisoned, millions fled as refugees, millions crushed under poverty and brutal tyranny. And yet....for the "anti-war generation" life goes merrily on. I guess my thought-processes are just too out-of-the-mainstream, but I don't understand why those people aren't spat upon as they walk down the street. Yet I imagine that Mr Kerry, when the occasion demands, gives touching speeches on the Holocaust, with solemn warnings that we must never again let people be dragged off to concentration camps. Then everyone applauds and he goes home and eats his baked beans with a hearty appetite. Lunacy.

And the same people who helped into power those communists who've had Nguyen Dan Que beaten or tortured and kept for years in solitary confinement now swell up like bullfrogs with pompous indignation about the so-called tortures at Abu Ghraib. Amazing.

I ardently hope that the tsunami of freedom that is beginning to rock the globe eventually lands on Vietnam. Not only because the good people of that land deserve to be delivered from tyranny, but because a lot of freedom-haters can be taunted: "Say, you were right. Iraq IS another Vietnam."

Posted by John Weidner at March 11, 2005 7:45 PM
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