Archive for the ‘“boat people.”’ Category

Consequences of Speedy Withdrawal From Iraq?

March 31, 2008

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
March 31, 2008

Every time I hear someone like Barack Obama talk about an immediate removal of American troops from Iraq, I say to myself: “you will condemn unknown millions to death and torture.”Even former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski believes a speedy U.S. troop removal will be a good thing.  And he said he supports Mr. Obama.

Writing in the Washington Post yesterday (March 30, 2008), Mr. Brzinski said, “The contrast between the Democratic argument for ending the war and the Republican argument for continuing is sharp and dramatic. The case for terminating the war is based on its prohibitive and tangible costs, while the case for ‘staying the course’ draws heavily on shadowy fears of the unknown and relies on worst-case scenarios. President Bush’s and Sen. John McCain’s forecasts of regional catastrophe are quite reminiscent of the predictions of ‘falling dominoes’ that were used to justify continued U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Neither has provided any real evidence that ending the war would mean disaster, but their fear-mongering makes prolonging it easier.”

Ironically, many of the same liberals who demand an immediate withdrawal of American troops from Iraq are the same ones who believe they are great protectors of human rights and also suffer from the dream that America’s withdrawal from Vietnam was justified and made Southeast Asia a better place.

The truth is: America’s departure from Vietnam meant death, torture and imprisonment for millions of Vietnamese and Cambodians. Both contries became communist — which is hardly a good thing. 

In my view, America’s withdrawal from Vietnam was the biggest tragedy of American foreign policy during the last century. America’s withdrawal from Vietnam is a gigantic black mark on America’s history.

Yesterday, Dith Pran died. Dith Pran is the person who called the carnage in Cambodia after America left Vietnam “The Killing Fields.”

Mr. Max Boot, writing in today’s Washington Post said, “Why am I not reassured by Zbigniew Brzezinski’s breezy assurance in Sunday’s Outlook section that ‘forecasts of regional catastrophe’ after an American pullout from Iraq are as overblown as similar predictions made prior to our pullout from South Vietnam? Perhaps because the fall of Saigon in 1975 really was a catastrophe. Another domino fell at virtually the same time — Cambodia.”

Mr. Boot continued, “Estimates vary, but a safe bet is that some two million people died in the killing fields of Cambodia. In South Vietnam, the death toll was lower, but hundreds of thousands were consigned to harsh ‘reeducation’ camps where many perished, and hundreds of thousands more risked their lives to flee as ‘boat people.’”

How do I know personally about the carnage of refugees when America departs from a far away war zone? I am married to a former prisoner of communism and a refugee who was born in Vietnam.

Saigon fell to the communists in 1975. My bride made it to America in 1998. She considers herself one of the “lucky ones.”

Just yesterday, as my wife and I were teaching English to Vietnamese-Americans, a man named Chien told me that in 1975 his father was given three days notice by the communists to report for reeducation. He was gone for six years and ten months. When he returned, he had lost nearly half his body weight due to overwork, malnourishment and harsh conditions with no medial care.

Chien’s father considered himself one of the “lucky ones” — because he had seen so many tortured and seen so many deaths.

One of the most degrading and harmful crimes committed against refugees is rape. Pirates, criminals, police, guards, soldiers even sometimes representatives of the United Nations have been known to rape refugees.

The criminal act of rape is not so much a sexual act of gratification, according to psychologists. Instead, in the case of refugees, it is a barbaric act of power, control and forced compliance with any order or directive.

After hearing countless stories of rape and humiliation related to me by Vietnamese refugees and “boat people” who fled communist Vietnam between 1975 and the late 1990s, I thought it might be useful to share some small bits of these stories without using the real names of any of the victims.

May was about 25 years old when she left Saigon and began to run away from communism and toward freedom. She traveled with her family to the sea coast and as a group they paid a broker about $1,000 per person for the privilege of leaving Vietnam by boat.

They transited by sea toward Thailand and freedom but they had never heard about the pirates plying the seas in search of the vulnerable and weak.

May’s entire family and everyone else in her boat suffered the horrible fate of being descended upon by armed pirates. Four Vietnamese men were killed in the attack and two more were slaughtered because they did not react quickly enough to the orders of the pirates. One man was beheaded by the pirates in front of the horrified refugee women and children.

May and all the other women in the boat were raped repeatedly. But, because she was one of the youngest and most beautiful women in the boat, May was singled out for special humiliation, abuse and torture. Her arms were tied so each spread out parallel to the deck and away from her torso. The lines were knotted painfully tight so that she could not move. She looked like someone subjected to crucifixion. Then her ankles were bound and tied so that her legs were apart. More than 22 men had they way with May before she lost consciousness.

When she regained the ability to think, she felt unbearable pain and shame and embarrassment. He own mother cut her down after the pirates left and tended to her bleeding.

When this refugee boat made landfall in Thailand, every woman was “rinsed out” without her own consent or authorization. The Thais didn’t want any pregnant refugees on their hands.

“And the cost of entering Thailand and the cost of entering the refugee camp was rape,” a Vietnamese American woman told us.

“My sister was raped 13 times,” she said.

“Many of my relatives disappeared. We are sure they must have been killed.”May wound up in the infamous Thai refugee center called “Sikhiew Camp.” She estimated that in her two year stay there she was raped about 60 more times.

Another Vietnamese woman named Suan told me a heartening story about the value of human life.

Like May, Suan was raped on the boat trip from Vietnam to Thailand. When she debarked from the boat in Thailand and saw the women being rinsed out, she faked an illness and refused the procedure. For some reason the Thai police sent her on her way to the refugee camp.

A few months later Suan realized that she was pregnant. All of her relatives and friends told her to abort the baby – and an old woman said she knew how to carry out the procedure as painlessly as possible.

Suan, a Roman Catholic who believed abortion to be a sin, prayed for two weeks for guidance. Then she told her mother she would need help having “her baby.”

Suan gave birth to a baby boy while in the refugee center. Today he is an American citizen who is a policeman in New England.

Suan’s decision to have her baby — a baby forced upon her by a man she didn’t know and didn’t love — turned out to be a good one. A real lesson in the value of human life and our ability to overcome hardship.

So when I hear people talk about quickly pulling American troops out of Iraq without discussing the implications for so many in that region who will then be at risk, I think about the refugees and their hardship. I live among them every day.

I live among the “lucky ones,” because millions died and we’ll never know how many.

Related:
Zbigniew Brzezinski’s Plan to End Iraq War

How Not to End the War
By Max Boot

‘Killing Fields’ survivor Dith Pran dies

Disaster of Hasty Withdrawal
By Henry Kissinger

Vietnam After the Fall of Saigon: 1975 Until Present

The Fall of Saigon: 1975 (Part II)

The Fall of Saigon: 1975 (Part I)

Thailand’s Criminal Abuse of Refugees: a Shameful 30+ Year Saga

How Not to End the War

March 31, 2008

 By Max Boot
The Washington Post
Monday, March 31, 2008; 12:00 AM

Why am I not reassured by Zbigniew Brzezinski’s breezy assurance in Sunday’s Outlook section that “forecasts of regional catastrophe” after an American pullout from Iraq are as overblown as similar predictions made prior to our pullout from South Vietnam? Perhaps because the fall of Saigon in 1975 really was a catastrophe. Another domino fell at virtually the same time — Cambodia.

Estimates vary, but a safe bet is that some two million people died in the killing fields of Cambodia. In South Vietnam, the death toll was lower, but hundreds of thousands were consigned to harsh “reeducation” camps where many perished, and hundreds of thousands more risked their lives to flee as “boat people.”

The consequences of the U.S. defeat rippled outward, emboldening communist aggression from Angola to Afghanistan. Iran’s willingness to hold our embassy personnel hostage — something that Brzezinski should recall — was probably at least in part a reaction to America’s post-Vietnam malaise. Certainly the inability of the U.S. armed services to rescue those hostages was emblematic of the “hollow,” post-Vietnam military. It took us more than a decade to recover from the worst military defeat in our history.

In a sense, however, we have never been able to shed its baleful legacy. Thirty years later, Ayman al Zawahiri acknowledged that he was still inspired by “the aftermath of the collapse of the American power in Vietnam and how they ran and left their agents.”

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03/28/AR2008032801729.html?hpid=opinionsbox1 

Related:
Zbigniew Brzezinski’s Plan to End Iraq War

Refugees Suffer the Agony of Mankind’s Most Heinous Predators

For a real human story from Cambodia, start by reading:
‘Killing Fields’ survivor Dith Pran dies

Refugees Suffer the Agony of Mankind’s Most Heinous Predators

January 3, 2008

Refugees Raped to Assert Power, Control

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
January 3, 2008

One of the most degrading and harmful crimes committed against refugees is rape. Pirates, criminals, police, guards, soldiers even sometimes representatives of the United Nations have been known to rape refugees.

The criminal act of rape is not so much a sexual act of gratification, according to psychologists. Instead, in the case of refugees, it is a barbaric act of power, control and forced compliance with any order or directive.

After hearing countless stories of rape and humiliation related to me by Vietnamese refugees and “boat people” who fled communist Vietnam between 1975 and the late 1990s, I thought it might be useful to share some small bits of these stories without using the real names of any of the victims.

May was about 25 years old when she left Saigon and began to run away from communism and toward freedom. She traveled with her family to the sea coast and as a group they paid a broker about $1,000 per person for the privilege of leaving Vietnam by boat.

They transited by sea toward Thailand and freedom but they had never heard about the pirates plying the seas in search of the vulnerable and weak.

May’s entire family and everyone else in her boat suffered the horrible fate of being descended upon by armed pirates. Four Vietnamese men were killed in the attack and two more were slaughtered because they did not react quickly enough to the orders of the pirates. One man was beheaded by the pirates in front of the horrified refugee women and children.

May and all the other women in the boat were raped repeatedly. But, because she was one of the youngest and most beautiful women in the boat, May was singled out for special humiliation, abuse and torture. Her arms were tied so each spread out parallel to the deck and away from her torso. The lines were knotted painfully tight so that she could not move. She looked like someone subjected to crucifixion. Then her ankles were bound and tied so that her legs were apart. More than 22 men had they way with May before she lost consciousness.

When she regained the ability to think, she felt unbearable pain and shame and embarrassment. He own mother cut her down after the pirates left and tended to her bleeding.

When this refugee boat made landfall in Thailand, every woman was “rinsed out” without her own consent or authorization. The Thais didn’t want any pregnant refugees on their hands.

“And the cost of entering Thailand and the cost of entering the refugee camp was rape,” a Vietnamese American woman told us.

“My sister was raped 13 times,” she said.

“Many of my relatives disappeared. We are sure they must have been killed.”May wound up in the infamous Thai refugee center called “Sikhiew Camp.” She estimated that in her two year stay there she was raped about 60 more times.

Another Vietnamese woman named Suan told me a heartening story about the value of human life.

Like May, Suan was raped on the boat trip from Vietnam to Thailand. When she debarked from the boat in Thailand and saw the women being rinsed out, she faked an illness and refused the procedure. For some reason the Thai police sent her on her way to the refugee camp.

A few months later Suan realized that she was pregnant. All of her relatives and friends told her to abort the baby – and an old woman said she knew how to carry out the procedure as painlessly as possible.

Suan, a Roman Catholic who believed abortion to be a sin, prayed for two weeks for guidance. Then she told her mother she would need help having “her baby.”

Suan gave birth to a baby boy while in the refugee center. Today he is an American citizen who is a policeman in New England.

Suan’s decision to have her baby — a baby forced upon her by a man she didn’t know and didn’t love — turned out to be a good one.  A real lesson in the value of human life and our ability to overcome hardship.

Related:
Thailand’s Criminal Abuse of Refugees: a Shameful 30+ Year Saga

Chistopher Columbus: World’s Finest Navigator (and Fundraiser)

October 8, 2007

By John E. Carey
October 8, 2008

First we salute Christopher Columbus, a wise mariner and colonizer. Mostly we think of him as a great navigator but let’s not forget that he also had to raise his own money for his adventures by “pitching” his plans around Europe. On May 1, 1486, Columbus laid out his plans before Queen Isabella, of Spain, who funded the project. Columbus then built, manned and supplied a three ship unit.

Christopher Columbus

Portrait by Alejo Fernández, painted between 1505 and 1536. Photo by historian Manuel Rosa.

Christopher Columbus faced immense challenges.  His critics said the earth was flat and he would fall off.  Few people had any idea how large the earth was or the distances between unexplored places.  And finally, Chistopher Columbus had no accurate timepiece. Estimating longitude depends on accurate time measurement. No reliable chronometer existed in the 14th and 15th centuries. Time was kept on board ship by the use of sand filled hour glasses which had to be watched and turned hourly.  

As a former Naval Officer who had to raise money, give some “pitches” and navigate in my own life, at sea and ashore, I have the deepest admiration for Christopher Columbus and his tenacity.

Pretty cool guy.

Notes from the shop

My wife and I run a small business — but she does all the work. I admit it!

I try to sit quietly at the computer doing research and cranking out newspaper articles.

And I also tell stories to people purely for the entertainment and fellowship (and I don’t mean just men: no offense intended to the women out there!).

Today I told stories about Columbus.

One customer today was born in Bolivia and I told him he might not be here if not for Chris Columbus. I told him he has two ties to Columbus: his life in the Americas and his Spanish language.  The Bolivian man was impressed that Columbus found this land but he also convinced a  Spanish Queen to fund the quest!

Another customer, who is a 49 year old mailman who walks five miles every day, was born in Brazil. He thought Columbus did an incredible job at navigation and said, “Whenever I get a new route I need a map. Columbus followed the stars and his dream.”

A woman born in Thailand added that the key to life is hope, your dream and determination. She thought Columbus would say that if he lived today.

Like a lot of Asian-Americans she spent time at sea as a refugee.

One customer, named Shaka, told me he is named for the greatest warrior of all time: Shaka who united the  Zulu nation in Africa. He said Shaka is viewed and respected for his military adeptness like Attila the Hun or Alexander the Great.  He said that Columbus was just as important as Shaka and maybe more so because Columbus had no idea what he would find or quite how he would find it.  In fact, Columbus was searching for India (that is why Native Americans have been referred to as “Indians”).

I told two day laborers born in Guatamala that Columbus probably landed closer to what is today Guatamala than say New York! Their response: “We don’t know much because all we do is work.”

All we do is work: a common thread among many of first generation American immigrants.

Finally, my own wife escaped Vietnam with the “Boat People” after the fall of Saigon in 1975.   She has no love of the sea’s vastness and perils.

About Columbus she said, “Don’t even think about it. He has to make that trip without me in the crew.”

Read more about Columbus:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Columbus#Funding_campaign

Thailand’s Criminal Abuse of Refugees: a Shameful 30+ Year Saga

September 18, 2007

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

Earlier today, we featured a report from Bangkok, Thailand by Ed Cropley of Reuters who wrote that North Korean Refugees in Thailand had apparently been subjected to human rights abuses.

This is nothing new for Thailand.

Earlier this year, international human rights groups unanimously condemned Thailand for its abuse of Hmong refugees who had originated in Vietnam (where the Hmong are hated for their assistance of the U.S. during the war that ended in 1975).

But Thai people didn’t just invent their abuse for refugees this year. After we featured the Reuters report on Thai abuse to North Korean refugees, we heard from refugees who had been abused by Thai people dating to 1975.

When the Vietnam war ended in 1975, a vast migration of Vietnamese people began. So many entered Thailand that the Thai government, the United Nations, and international human rights groups established refugee centers inside Thailand.

“But the cost of entering Thailand and the cost of entering the refugee camp was rape,” a Vietnamese American woman told us.

“My sister was raped 13 times,” she said. 

“Many of my relatives disappeared. We are sure they must have been killed.”

“This occurred in 1975 but continued for more than ten years as Vietnamese people came out of their home country,” the former refugee told us.

Thai sailors at sea were notorious as pirates searching the ocean for Vietnamese “Boat People.”

If the Thai men found helpless Vietnamese “Boat People,” they usually killed all and stole anything of value they found.  First they raped the women of all ages.

“I was eight months pregnant,” one told us.  “I was the only person not raped and killed in my boat.  I saw my husband killed and one of my other relatives beheaded.”

No Thai government has ever effectively dealt with the human rights abuses they have witnesses for the last three decades.

One of the more notorious camps for refugees inside Thailand was known as “Sikhiew.”

“When I was 12, my family and I was in a refugee camp called “Sikhiew Camp” in Thailand,” wrote Chhai. “Life in the camp was no different to a prison, I could tell that the grown up were going crazy and very much depressed. There were brick walls surround us, we live, eat, and sleep in a building that housed around 200 people, each person were given a 65cm x 2m space.”

Another woman told us that after 6 PM, Sikhiew became a lawless area.  “Thai men came in, grabbed a refugee woman, and disappeared to rape her all night.”

So it is no surprise that now, as North Korean refugees are supposedly offered “refuge” inside Thailand, these helpless people are the subject of abuse and maltreatment.

Referenced article by Reuters:
Thailand Accused of Abuse, Neglect of Refugees

‘Boat people’ thank sailors who helped them escape Vietnam

September 7, 2007

By E.B. Furgurson III
Capital Gazette Newspapers
Annapolis, MD

September 02, 2007

Frank Mathias thought he was gathering his old USS Lang shipmates unit for a reunion dinner geared to honor World War II veterans who served on a ship of the same name.

But the highlight of the evening was instead testimony from survivors of another war, a Vietnamese family plucked from a foundering boat in the Gulf of Thailand 25 years ago.

They travelled from Texas to give thanks.

“Thank you for saving our lives and giving us the chance to live the American dream,” Lena Chau-Pun and her mother told the 50 veterans and their families. “You are all true heroes.”

USS Lang (FF-1060)
USS Lang (FF-1060)

“My father kept a folder with information given to him on the USS Lang,” Ms. Chau-Pun told those at the dinner. “Once in a while he would pull out the folder and remind us not to forget those that saved our lives. ‘Make the USS Lang … proud of you,’ he said.”

Read the rest of the story at:
http://www.hometownannapolis.com/cgi-bin/read/2007/09_02-73/TOP

Courtesy photo

Iraq And The Vietnam Analogy

September 2, 2007

By Immanuel Wallerstein
Yale University
September 2, 2007

Using three slogans –boat people, re-education camps, and killing fields – George Bush offers a desperate and malignant comparison of the US withdrawal from Vietnam with any such withdrawal from Iraq, says Immanuel Wallerstein.

George W. Bush is showing both desperation and malignity by invoking the Vietnam analogy to justify the continuing presence of the United States in Iraq. For a very long time, the Bush administration has denied the analogy. They did this for obvious reasons. For most people, what they remember of Vietnam is that the United States was defeated, and this defeat resulted in a weakening of American power in the world.

Read the rest at:
http://peace-and-freedom.blogspot.com/2007/09/
iraq-and-vietnam-analogy.html

Bush invokes ‘tragedy of Vietnam’ against Iraq pullout

August 22, 2007

August 22, 2007

KANSAS CITY, Missouri (CNN) — President Bush drew parallels between the aftermath of the Vietnam War and the potential costs of pulling out of Iraq in a speech Wednesday.

“Three decades later, there is a legitimate debate about how we got into the Vietnam War and how we left,” Bush told members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, at their convention in Kansas City, Missouri.

“Whatever your position in that debate, one unmistakable legacy of Vietnam is that the price of America’s withdrawal was paid by millions of innocent citizens, whose agonies would add to our vocabulary new terms like ‘boat people,’ ‘re-education camps’ and ‘killing fields,’ ” the president said.

Read the rest:
http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/08/22/
bush.iraq.speech/index.html?section=cnn_latest

Read the president’s speech:
https://johnibii.wordpress.com/2007/08/22/president-bush-address/

President Bush Addresses the Veterans of Foreign Wars; August 22, 2007

August 22, 2007

President Bush Attends Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention, Discusses War on Terror
Kansas City Convention and Entertainment Center
Kansas City, Missouri

August 22, 2007

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. Please be seated. It’s good to be with you again. I understand you haven’t had much of a problem attracting speakers. (Laughter.) I thank you for inviting me. I can understand why people want to come here. See, it’s an honor to stand with the men and women of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. (Applause.) The VFW is one of this nation’s finest organizations. You belong to an elite group of Americans. (Applause.) You belong to a group of people who have defended America overseas. You have fought in places from Normandy to Iwo Jima, to Pusan, to Khe Sahn, to Kuwait, to Somalia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq. You brought security to the American people; you brought hope to millions across the world.

As members of this proud organization, you are advocates for the rights of our military veterans, a model of community service, and a strong and important voice for a strong national defense. I thank you for your service. I thank you for what you’ve done for the United States of America. (Applause.)

Read it all at:
http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/
2007/08/text/20070822-3.html

Bush draws Vietnam parallel in warning over Iraq withdrawal

August 22, 2007

MONTEBELLO, Canada (AFP) – US President George W. Bush in a speech on Wednesday will warn that a US withdrawal from Iraq could produce a catastrophe similar to what occurred in Southeast Asia after US forces left Vietnam.

According to excerpts from Bush’s address released in advance on Tuesday, the US president was to charge that an early exit from Iraq would “pull the rug out” from under US troops just as their efforts are paying off.

Bush’s speech ties anti-war forces in the Vietnam era to the hundreds of thousands of people killed in the aftermath of the US pull-out….

Read it all at:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20070822/
wl_mideast_afp/usiraqpoliticsbush_
070822041557

Photo
An American flag hangs on the ceiling as US soldiers set off on an air assault on board a Chinook helicopter as part of Operation Marne Husky, along the Tigris river.