Thursday, October 24, 2013

Unmanned drone planes are slaughtering innocent civilians in various countries, making many more enemies for the US. The mass media either ignores or distorts this horrifying reality. . .

UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, Christof Heyns, has called the CIA tactic of targeting civilian rescuers a "war crime.”

“When one drone attack is followed up by another in order to target those who are wounded and hors de combat or medical personnel, it constitutes a war crime in armed conflict and a violation of the right to life, whether or not in armed conflict,” he wrote in a recent UN report on drones.

By Kevin Gosztola 

“...Some people lost their hands,” Nabeel said of the second strike. “Others had their heads cut off. Some lost their legs. Human body parts were scattered everywhere on the ground. The bodies were burnt and it was not possible to recognize them...”

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

An inspirational video from Viet Nam. 

". . . It  is my hope that this video will reach out to many people in many lands so that the message against the use of chemical weapons is made loud and clear."  
~ Len Aldis.
Len Aldis, a compassionate and tireless campaigner for Agent Orange victims, is making his annual visit from the UK to Viet Nam. He features in this special programme on Vietnam Television.  

Len Aldis writes from Ho Chi Minh City...


This 30 minute video made on my arrival at Ho Chi Minh City and continues to the city maternity hospital where in a separate level are those affected by Agent Orange.  It is difficult to walk along the beds and see the children and not get angry that such innocents are suffering from the effects of a war that ended 38-years ago.

The video needs little comment, the scenes speak for themselves and it is heartbreaking when a child grabs your hand while lying in his bed.

Nguyen Duc the surviving  twin is a marvel and I recently described him as an ambassador to the Victims of Agent Orange, the kids love to see him walk amongst them, a sight I have seen many times.

It  is my hope that this video will reach out to many people in many lands so that the message against the use of chemical weapons is made loud and clear.

Len Aldis"

Len Aldis
Secretary. Britain-Vietnam Friendship Society

Flat 2, 26 Tomlins Grove
London E3 4NX
Tel: 0208 980 7146
Mobile: 0779 657 1017

Please watch this moving and inspirational video: 

Friday, October 04, 2013

Rest - In - Peace. . .
Viet Nam's legendary General Vo Nguyen Giap
August 25, 1911 - September 4, 2013

Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap, here in a photo from July 10, 2008, died Friday evening in a military hospital in Hanoi.

Giap was a national hero of Viet Nam 
whose legacy was second only to that of his mentor, 
founding president Ho Chi Minh.
General Vo Nguyen Giap, one of the great military geniuses of the 20th century, was buried Sunday afternoon, October 13, near his hometown in the north-central province of Quang Binh.  

Read more, and pictures:

Like other Vietnamese people, Nguyen Minh, a painter in Bien Hoa city, the southern province of Dong Nai, has expressed his love and respect for General Vo Nguyen Giap in his own way. 

Vo Nguyen Giap, the brilliant self-taught general who drove the French out of Vietnam to free it from colonial rule and later forced the U.S. to abandon its intervention, sadly, has died. At age 102, he was the last of Vietnam's old-guard revolutionaries.

Giap died Friday evening(September 4, 2013) in a military hospital in the capital of Hanoi, where he had spent close to four years growing weaker and suffering from long illnesses.

Called the "Red Napoleon," he stood out as the leader of a ragtag army of guerrillas who wore sandals made of car tyres and lugged their artillery piece by piece over mountains to encircle and crush the French army at Dien Bien Phu in 1954. 

The unlikely victory, which is still studied at military schools, not only led to Vietnam's independence but also hastened the collapse of colonialism across Indochina and beyond. Giap went on to defeat the U.S.-backed South Vietnam government in April 1975, reuniting a country that had been "temporarily" split.

"No other wars for national liberation were as fierce or caused as many losses as this war," Giap told The Associated Press in 2005, on the eve of the 30th anniversary of the fall of Saigon, the former South Vietnamese capital. 

"But we still fought because, for Vietnam, nothing is more precious than independence and freedom," he said, repeating a famous quote by Ho Chi Minh.

Giap remained sharp and well versed in politics and current events until he was hospitalized. Well into his 90s, he entertained world leaders, who posed for photographs and received autographed copies of his books while visiting the general's shady colonial-style home in Hanoi.

Although he was widely revered in Vietnam, Giap was the nemesis of South Vietnamese who fought alongside U.S. troops and fled their homeland after the war, including the many staunchly anti-communist refugees who settled in the United States.

Born August 25, 1911, in central Vietnam's Quang Binh province, Giap became active in politics in the 1920s and worked as a history teacher and journalist before joining the Indochinese Communist Party. He was jailed briefly in 1930 for leading anti-French protests and later earned a law degree from Hanoi University.

He fled French police in 1940 and met Ho in southwestern China before returning to rural northern Vietnam to recruit guerrillas for the Viet Minh, a forerunner to the later southern insurgency derogatorily called 'Viet Cong' by the U.S. and Saigon government.

During his time abroad, his wife was arrested by the French and died in prison. He later remarried and had five children.

In 1944, Ho called on Giap to organize and lead guerrilla forces against Japanese invaders during World War II. After Japan surrendered to Allied forces the following year, the Viet Minh continued their fight for independence from France.

vietnamese highlands

In 2009, Giap launched a battle against bauxite mining to protect Vietnam's highlands. Click to learn more.


Giap received no formal military training, joking that he attended the military academy "of the bush."

At Dien Bien Phu, his Viet Minh army surprised elite French forces by surrounding them. Digging miles of trenches, the Vietnamese dragged heavy artillery over steep mountains and slowly closed in during the bloody, 56-day battle, which ended with French surrender on May 7, 1954.

"If a nation is determined to stand up, it is very strong," Giap told foreign journalists in 2004 before the battle's 50th anniversary. "We are very proud that Vietnam was the first colony that could stand up and gain independence on its own."

The general drew on his Dien Bien Phu experience to create the Ho Chi Minh Trail, a clandestine jungle network that snaked through neighboring Laos and Cambodia to supply his troops fighting on southern battlefields.

Against U.S. forces with their sophisticated weapons and B-52 bombers, Giap's forces again prevailed. But more than a million of his troops perished in what is known in Vietnam as the American War.

"We had to use the small against the big — backward weapons to defeat modern weapons," Giap said. "At the end, it was the human factor that determined the victory."

Historian Stanley Karnow, who interviewed Giap in Hanoi in 1990, quoted him as saying, "We were not strong enough to drive out a half million American troops, but that wasn't our aim. Our intention was to break the will of the American government to continue the war."

Giap had been largely credited with devising the 1968 Tet Offensive, a series of surprise attacks on U.S. strongholds in the South by Viet Cong and North Vietnamese forces that came during Lunar New Year celebrations. Newer research, however, suggests that Giap had been against the attacks, and his family has confirmed that he was out of the country when they began.

The Tet Offensive shook the United States' confidence, fueled anti-war sentiment and prompted U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson to announce that he would not seek re-election. But it took another seven years for the war to be won.

On April 30, 1975, tanks of the liberation forces smashed through the front gates of Saigon's Presidential Palace, then known as Independence Palace, (and now known as Reunification Palace), and the Saigon government surrendered unconditionally.

"With the victory of April 30, 1975, slaves became free men," Giap said. 
"It was an unbelievable story."

It came at a price for all sides: the deaths of as many as 3 million liberation fighters and civilians, an estimated 250,000 South Vietnamese troops and 58,000 Americans.

Throughout most of the war years, Giap served as defense minister, armed-forces commander and a senior member of Vietnam's ruling Communist Party, but he was slowly elbowed from the center of power after Ho's death in 1969. The glory for victory in 1975 went not so much to Giap as to Gen. Van Tien Dung, chief of the general staff.

Giap lost the defense portfolio in 1979 and was dropped from the all-powerful Politburo three years later. He stepped down from his last post, as deputy prime minister, in 1991.

But despite losing some favor with the government, the thin, white-haired man became even more beloved by the Vietnamese people as he continued to speak out in his old age. He retired in Hanoi as a national treasure, writing his memoirs and attending national events — always wearing green or eggshell-colored military uniforms with gold stars across the shoulders.

He held press conferences, reading from handwritten notes and sometimes answering questions in French, to commemorate war anniversaries. He invited foreign journalists to his home for meetings with high-profile visitors and often greeted a longtime American female AP correspondent in Hanoi with kisses on both cheeks.

He kept up with world news and offered a piece of advice in 2004 for Americans fighting in Iraq: "Any forces that wish to impose their will on other nations will certainly face failure," he told reporters.

Giap received a parade of foreign dignitaries, including friend and fellow communist revolutionary Fidel Castro of Cuba. In 2003 the pair sat in Giap's home, chatting and laughing beneath a portrait of former Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin.

One of the general's former nemeses, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, visited in 1995.

At age 97, Giap took a high-profile role in a debate over the proposed expansion of a bauxite mine that he said posed environmental and security risks, in part because it was to be operated by a Chinese company in Vietnam's restive Central Highlands. He also protested the demolition of Hanoi's historic parliament house, Ba Dinh Hall. Both projects, however, went ahead as planned.

Giap celebrated his 100th birthday in 2011. He was too weak and ill to speak, but he signed a card thanking his "comrades" for their outpouring of well wishes. And even then, he continued to be briefed every few days about international and national events, said Col. Nguyen Huyen, Giap's personal secretary for 35 years.

Late in life, Giap encouraged warmer relations between Vietnam and the United States, which re-established ties in 1995 and have become close trading partners. Vietnam has recently looked to the U.S. military as a way to balance China's growing power in the disputed South China Sea.

"We can put the past behind," Giap said in 2000. "But we cannot completely forget it." 

Slightly edited from The Associated Press 

General Vo Nguyen Giap, who died Friday aged 102, was considered one of history's greatest military strategists and was the architect of Vietnam's stunning battlefield victories against France and the United States.

Legendary general Vo Nguyen Giap was known for scripting Vietnam's victory in wars against France and US. 


VIDEO (5:28):  Film footage of the General, and interview with Ray McGovern, a former CIA analyst during the U.S.-Vietnam War.

President Ho Chi Minh and Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap, in 1957.


From Melbourne Age newspaper, September 5, 2013:

An outpouring of grief has swept Vietnamese social media and internet sites over legendary General Vo Nguyen Giap whose brilliant guerilla tactics defeated both the French and American armies, hastening the collapse of colonialism in Asia.

‘‘Rest in peace the hero of the people. You will always be our greatest general,’’ was typical of the tributes that swamped the internet.

‘‘He’s a mythic, heroic figure for Vietnam,’’ said Carl Thayer, a Vietnam expert and emeritus professor at the University of New South Wales at the Australian Defence Force Academy in Canberra.

John McCain, the former US presidential candidate and navy pilot who was shot down and held as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, said the feisty commander was a brilliant strategist ‘‘who once told me that we were an honourable enemy’’.    {Perhaps Giap was just being polite to his guest?! - Bruce}

Vietnamese historian Phan Huy Le said Giap, who masterminded the defeat of the French at the battle of Dien Bien Phu in northern Vietnam in 1954, was ‘‘one of the most talented military strategists and most famous generals, not just in Vietnam, but in world history.’’

The Dien Bien Phu victory where Vietnamese fighters hauled their artillery into jungle hills in an outstanding logistical feat and pounded French forces below led to Vietnam’s independence.

Giap’s guerillas then defeated US-backed forces, including Australians, in what is known in Vietnam as the ‘‘American War,’’ reuniting a war-ravaged country in 1975...

QĐND - Saturday, October 05, 2013, 19:45 (GMT+7)
General Vo Nguyen Giap, *103, has passed away in Hanoi due to old age, said a special communiqué released by the Communist Party of Vietnam’s Central Committee (CPVCC), the National Assembly, the President, the Government, the Vietnam Fatherland Front Central Committee and the CPVCC’s Military Commission on October 5. 
The communiqué said the General died at the Central Military Hospital 108 at 6:09 PM on October 4.
General Giap, real name Vo Giap (alias Van), was born in Loc Thuy commune, Le Thuy district, the central province of Quang Binh on August 25, 1911.
He served as a Politburo member, Secretary of the CPVCC’s Military Commission, Standing Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of National Defence, Commander-in-Chief of the Vietnamese People’s Army and a National Assembly deputy from the first to seventh tenure.
During his revolutionary life spanning over 80 years, the General rendered significant services to the Party and the nation. As an eminent student close to President Ho Chi Minh, the first General and Commander-in-Chief of the Vietnamese People’s Army, he was loved and respected by the people and international friends and a pride of generations of officers and soldiers nationwide.
General Giap was awarded the Party and State’s Golden Star Order, the Ho Chi Minh Order, the 70-year Party membership badge and many other noble orders and medals both at home and abroad.
His death is a great loss to the Party, the State, people and army, the communiqué said, adding that a State funeral will be held for the General.

Source: VNA
NOTE: * In Viet Nam, it is customary to count a person's age as 1 at birth.
People's Army Newspaper Online:

General Vo Nguyen Giap in the heart of Latin Americans
Many Latin American countries have praised General Vo Nguyen Giap following the news on his death...  

From the archives: A message from General Giap
There, loose between two typed pages, was a yellowed business card, with "VO NGUYEN GIAP" in bold, his role in italics, and "Home Minister" hand-written below. Vo Nguyen Giap's signature is on the back of the card along with an official stamp in the required red. 

Book sheds new light on Viet Nam's military mastermind
A new historical biography penned by an American professor uses comprehensive research and first-hand accounts to uncover the motivations and tactical genius of the revered Vietnamese General Vo Nguyen Giap.

Little tour guides prove to be a big hit
Despite not yet being in high school, two youngsters in Muong Phang are already top of the class when it comes to sharing their commune's rich history. Duc Thach and Vien Su report. 

Gen Giap photos reflect comradeship
The close relationship between Gen Vo Nguyen Giap and veterans is portrayed by photographer Nguyen Trong Nghi in an exhibition which opened in the capital yesterday. 

Leaders visit master tactician Gen Giap on 100th birthday
The military mastermind behind victories against the French and American forces in Viet Nam, General Vo Nguyen Giap, yesterday received Party and State leaders on the occasion of his 100th birthday. 

General Giap in 3D revolution
Viet Nam's 3D animated film on the revolutionary war against French colonialists, featuring the legendary military commander General Vo Nguyen Giap, is finished after more than two years. 

General Giap's 100th birthday draws tribute
Vo Nguyen Giap is acknowledged as one of history's great generals and in honour of his 100th birthday today, Viet Nam News publishes excerpts written by Viet Nam People's Army Colonel Ho Ngoc Son that help explain his military genius.