Vietnam's Independence Day

Vietnam won its independence 65 years ago. On September 2, 1945, in Hanoi’s Ba Dinh Square, hundreds of thousands of people heard President Ho Chi Minh, on behalf of the provisional government, read out the Declaration of Independence.

Led by the Vietnamese Independence League, or Viet Minh, the August Revolution of 1945 ended 80 years of French colonial domination, abolished the monarchy and re-established Vietnam as an independent nation. Vietnam was the first country in Asia to achieve independence from colonial domination.

But the Vietnamese people’s battle for freedom was not over. It took another 30 years of bitter struggle and war to finally win complete liberation and independence.

On the evening of December 19 1946, President Ho Chi Minh made an appeal to the nation:

“Compatriots: We want peace, and we have made concessions. But the more concessions we make, the more the French colonialists use them to encroach upon our rights. They are determined to reconquer our country.

“No. We would rather sacrifice all than lose our independence and be enslaved. All of you, men and women, young and old, whatever your region, ethnic origin, or political opinion, arise to struggle against French colonialism and save the homeland. Let those who have guns use their guns, those who have swords use their swords, those have neither guns nor swords use hoes, pick-axes, and sticks. Let all arise to oppose colonialism and defend our homeland.... Our people will win”.

The Vietnamese people did just that. They resisted the French reoccupation, finally decisively defeating the French at the battle of Dien Bien Phu, led by General Vo Nguyen Giap. The Geneva Accords signed in 1956 were an agreement for the French and their supporters to regroup in the South before final withdrawal. But US imperialism, which had been bankrolling the French war, now openly took over the struggle against the Vietnamese people, and denied the Vietnamese their unity and independence.

Vietnam was invaded by more than half a million US troops, and its enormous war machine. They were joined by troops from Australian and other countries. More than 7 million tonnes of bombs were dropped, the equivalent of 640 of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima; nearly 4 million land mines were laid throughout the country; more than 300,000 tonnes of napalm were dropped on the Vietnamese people, and nearly half a million tonnes of defoliants such as Agent Orange containing deadly dioxin.

The Vietnamese people heroically resisted in the North and the South, assisted by a huge public opposition and protests against the war in the US and Australia and around the world. The US was forced to sign the Paris Peace Accords in January 1973 and transfer the open fighting to their puppet regime in the South. But in 1975 a powerful six-weeks Spring Offensive swept out the last remnants of the imperialist forces and their puppets, leading to final victory on April 30, 1975.

The headline on the cover of a special issue of Direct Action in 1975 proclaimed it “A victory for all humanity”. And it was.

But that was still not the end of it for the brave and long-suffering Vietnamese people. After their final liberation in 1975 they still had to face: incursions and harassment by the Pol Pot regime in Cambodia; invasion by China; economic embargo and boycott by US imperialism for decades; refusal by Washington to pay a cent of the more than 3 billion US dollars of reparations agreed upon; the continuing devastation from unexploded mines and bombs, and the ongoing effects of Agent Orange on millions of Vietnamese.

To commemorate the heroic Vietnamese struggle for liberation and independence and celebrate Vietnam’s Independence Day, a series of seminars, poster exhibitions and film showings have been organised in Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney and Perth (see advertisement on this page.)

As well as being the 65th anniversary of Vietnamese independence, 2010 is an important anniversary year for many other events in Vietnam’s history — the 35th anniversary of the final liberation and reunification of the country; the 80th anniversary of the foundation of the Indochinese Communist Party; the 45th anniversary of the first demonstrations in Australia against the war in Vietnam, and the 40th anniversary of the big Moratorium demonstrations here.

The seminars will have panel discussions on:

  1. Vietnam’s long struggle for liberation;
  2. The Australian campaign against the war in Vietnam;
  3. Vietnam Today — Reconstruction and Solidarity.

There will be speakers from Vietnam, academics, union leaders, anti-war veterans, and activists from the campaign against the war in Vietnam.