East Sea: Fear doesn’t drive back danger

Published: 09/06/2011 05:00

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There are circumstances that quietness doesn’t help us to avoid danger, but
enhances the danger because the quietness misleads others as feebleness



There are circumstances that quietness doesn’t help us to avoid danger, but
enhances the danger because the quietness misleads others as feebleness






Introduction:
, a retired French teacher, is honored to be the first foreign man
granted Vietnamese nationality in November 2009, with a Vietnamese name Ho
Cuong Quyet.



Over 40 years ago, Menras was one of the two French who
bravely climbed the statue of a US marine in Saigon in front of the Lower House
of the Saigon government (HCM City Opera House at present) to wave the flag of
the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam (NLF), and distributed
6000 leaflets against the Vietnam War in 1970.



Menras was arrested for these activities. He was sentenced
to three years in prison and expelled.


Although hard and brutal, the years in prison did not pass
by fruitlessly for the young man, a former French teacher at Saigon’s Jean Jacque
Rousseau School.
He learned Vietnamese from other prisoners and they gave him a Vietnamese name,
Ho Cuong Quyet (Ho standing for Ho Chi Minh and Cuong Quyet meaning
determination).



In early 1973, they were released and expelled Menras to France.
Several months after, he published the book We Accuse: Back from Saigon’s
Prisons in France.
This book has been translated into many languages, including a Vietnamese
version issued in 1974.



Almost 30 years since his hurried exit, Menras returned to Saigon in 2002 to see his friends. Since then, he has
frequently shuttled between France
and Vietnam,
serving as chair for the French-Vietnamese Association of Education Development
and Exchange.



To honor his contributions to Vietnam, he was presented with the
“For the Young Generation” medal and the “Medal for Peace and Friendship
between Nations” by the Vietnamese government.



In a talk with HCM City Vice-Chair four years ago, Menras
expressed his wish to become a Vietnamese citizen while keeping his French
nationality. At that time, Vietnam
had not approved dual nationality yet and foreigners had to give up their
original nationality to gain Vietnamese citizenship.




The new Law on Nationality was ratified in July 2009, and
took effect as of November 2009. President Nguyen Minh Triet knew of Menras
through some of his comrades and invited Menras to meet on November 4, 2009. At
that time the President promised to grant Menras Vietnamese citizenship.



Several days later, Menras saw the Vietnamese President
again in a meeting with his comrades in a forest near the Vietnam-Cambodia
border, the war resistance base during the Vietnam War. The President told
Menras to go to the HCM City Department of Justice three days later to receive
his granting of Vietnamese nationality.



On December 1 2009, Menras received the decision at a solemn
ceremony, attended by President Nguyen Minh Triet. From that day, Menras was a
Vietnamese citizen named Ho Cuong Quyet. He is the first foreigner to receive
Vietnamese nationality under the new law.



He sent VietNamNet’s Vietnam
Week this article with his own view of the Binh Minh 02 incident.



The people must be
honestly informed of the situation



There are circumstances that quietness doesn’t help us to
avoid danger but enhances the danger because the quietness misleads others as
feebleness.



Diplomatic response is certainly necessary, but it is not
enough to court international solidarity that Vietnam needs at this time. Those
who relied on the people’s power to liberate and unite the country are well
aware better than anyone else of the value of the right to have access to
information and the right to take action of the people.



China is
determined to speed up its attack in the East Sea.
It is before the eyes of the international community. We have to raise our
voice strongly!



China
has broken commitments that they signed. We have to raise our voice strongly!



Chinese naval forces have harassed and terrorized Vietnamese
fishermen in the waters that our fishermen have netted for generations. We have
to raise our voice strongly!



Information about the fate of our people who were harassed,
imprisoned, robbed and went bankrupt in the East Sea
must be reported to the people throughout the country.



Briefly: the people must be honestly informed about the
actual situation.



Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) belong to Vietnam!
We should not be satisfied with meetings of Vietnamese and international
experts to confirm that fact quietly. These meetings are all important but we
need to confirm our sovereignty [over Hoang Sa and Truong Sa] in historical
textbooks in all schools.



I was flabbergasted and felt a throbbing pain when I knew
that children on Ly Son island - the home of the fishermen who have been
patiently fishing in the sea of Hoang Sa for many generations, and the island
in the most dangerous position in the struggling to confirm Vietnam’s
sovereignty over the Hoang Sa Archipelago – did not know about the geography of
the islands where their fathers and brothers were seized by the Chinese navy.



Many administrative maps of Vietnam still lack the Huu Nhat and
Quang Anh islands, where the ancestors of Ly Son island’s people, members of
the Hoang Sa flotilla, sacrificed.



Fear doesn’t drive
back danger



I understand the extremely difficult and sensitive position
of Vietnamese leaders, who want to avoid new losses for their people, who
experienced pains and losses in the country’s history. Vietnam’s history has witnessed
bloodshed many times: in 1974, 1979, 1988…



But fear doesn’t drive back danger. As High-ranking General,
Le Duc Anh said: “If we are frightened, we will lose. We will lose the places
where they want to occupy. If we are not frightened, we will have a way to
struggle to both keep our sovereignty and harmony”.



Mr. Bui Thuong, 73, the diving champion on Ly Son Island, is
aware of this. “If you meet a shark, you have to confront it and look directly
to its eyes so it doesn’t attack you,” he said.



There are moments that we have to face danger. That is the
vital matter. Facing is firstly telling the truth and only the truth.



I talked with fishermen on Binh Chau and Ly Son islands, who
have to take risks every day in the sea. They said that they saw Chinese
fishing boats that approached their island very near, only 20 miles. Groups of
Chinese fishing ships are well organized and accompanied by Chinese naval
ships. Meanwhile, Vietnamese fishermen go out to the sea with unsecure feeling.
They may be arrested, detained and their equipment and fish may be seized, and
they have to pay huge debts. There are fishermen like Mr. Tieu Viet La in Binh
Chau commune, was arrested four times by Chinese ships.



The State’s assistance is modest. Fishermen must be very
brave to go out to the sea in that situation.



Widows of fishermen who went missing mysteriously in the Da
Bong Bay area, a kind of the “Bermuda
triangle” of the Hoang Sa Archipelago, are living lonely because their only
assets are their husbands.



Some widows cannot even afford to build a fake tomb for
their missing husbands. In the rainy season, they don’t have money to repair
their dilapidated houses. They cannot afford their children’s extra classes
while their children are the only hope in their remaining days.



The local governments’ symbolic allowance of VND2 million
($100) cannot help change their lives.



We have to talk about
them!



These people must enjoy the State’s official assistance
program, or at least they must be adequately supplied with food, necessities
and medicines. Their children must be sent to schools and enjoy free
healthcare. Protecting these children and their mothers is defending Vietnam’s
waters and islands, defending the country in the most effective and practical
manner.



In that situation, no one has the right to make relief China’s
responsibility. If you tell fishermen in the central region about “strange
ships”, they would immediately make correction “strange ships” into “Chinese
ships”. For them, they are not “strange”.



Many Vietnamese friends told me: “China is wise”. Chinese leaders are
wise, aren’t they? Escalating disputes, China is making conditions for
ASEAN to get closer together.



They have opened a new front line, where they have to spend
resources, which are necessary for economic development, into a costly
adventure that will surely make them to get stuck.



The time that they could arrogate Hoang Sa, and scuttle Vietnam’s
supply ship in Bai Gac Ma has been over. China is strongly developing, but
that development is deeply digging internal contradictions and magnifying
social inequality. You don’t need to be a prophet to see difficulties in front
of Beijing, not
behind their back. At that time, they will have to answer.



There is another lesson of history that Chinese leaders want
to forget, which is not wise: in the long run, they cannot succeed if they go
contrary to the will of other nations because the real power is in the people,
not in guns and weapon.



On Ly Son Island, I attended a very meaningful rite, which
shows the will of the local people. Whenever a fisherman goes missing for
storms or any mysterious reason, his family will organize a unique ritual to
call the soul of the dead to enter a clay-made dummy. The dummy is buried in a
tomb which is called “mo gio” so the missing fisherman’s family can come to
worship. Is it superstitious? Maybe, but I think that this rite is very meaningful.
This custom of hundreds of years shows the will of the living: they are
determined to fight to take back from the sea, from their enemy the best to
their families and their countries. That is the clear message for invaders:
“Whatever you do, we still have strong attachment to fishermen, to our sea, to
this civilization, to this country. No one, no power can arrogate these things.



Andre Menras


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