friend of mine once asked me, if everyone is a good human being,
what's the matter with our world? And I ask myself if everyone loves
peace and liberty, what is the matter? Why war and tyrants? I don't
But I did know
that being a peace and liberty loving person is not easy, as it
has not always been for a long time. Many of my friends ridicule
me for metaphoric and literary exaggeration as I wrote that I have
been terrified and trembling by people's attitude to war and liberty
today. No, it's real. I lived through war and two oppressive regimes,
the military dictatorship and the communist totalitarian dictatorship.
I did not know liberty, democracy and peace before. And now I see
people are destroying peace and liberty by their silence. They are
our common treasure. I fear I will have them no more.
I heard people
saying peace loving people are cowards, and a liberty loving person
is a rebel who professes chaos. I myself learned that loving peace
is defying fear, and that war is generated by fear and creates more
fear; loving liberty is defying coercion, and that oppressive power
is based on fear and coercion, and generates more of them. I love
peace and liberty; so I have been accused of many things with many
while a young student, I came down on the street joining many others
against corruption, and demanded the withdrawal of the US army.
We were young and naïve in many aspects of politics, but the
goal was right and just. Later, after the Communists took over the
whole nation, I was blamed and ridiculed by many friends and acquaintances
that I and others were cowards, and betrayers who brought the Communists
in. I was hated.
that the War itself was a result of ignorance of liberty and peace
of all the peoples involved. We, the Vietnamese, the Americans,
the Australians, the Koreans, let the political governments play
with and manipulate our lives. Although the victory of the Communists
was through a set game of super political powers, it was above all
the result of our peoples' (north and south) stupidity and ignorance
of politics as a whole. We let the political government of super
powers use our lives and dictate our future. The Vietnam War was
a big mess, and a catastrophe for all the people involved; we all
are the losers. And the worst losers were the Vietnamese people.
The victors were political governments. Very few understand and
admit this. Like today, the ascendancy of the war party is a result
of ignorance of the people, who are now infected with fear and hatred.
In 1983 I left
Vietnam and became a refugee after the unsuccessful attempts of
many underground anti-communist groups to change things. I then
joined with other expatriates in the freedom and democracy movement
right after I landed in Galang camp in Indonesia. There I saw not
only the hatred, but also the authoritarian habits of the ex-south
Vietnam officers manifested in full manner on other refugees. Ironically,
oppressive and undemocratic manners were practiced by the very ones
who just escaped from the brutality of the communist regime, and
claimed themselves freedom and democracy fighters. I protested.
I argued with them. And I was hated. I was accused of being a communist
agent. I learned something more about loving peace and liberty.
As soon as
I landed in Australia, I continued my dream of fighting for democracy
and freedom; I joined the Front, which was then chaired by former
South Army rear admiral Hoang Co Minh, who later was killed while
leading a group of others crossing the borders into Vietnam. I saw
the corruption of spirit of democracy and freedom within the organization,
and the wrong, hopeless direction of the armed struggle. I left
the Organization and started a new movement, which advocates non-violent
struggle for peace and liberty by improving not only awareness and
knowledge of liberty and democracy, but also spreading information
about the truth of the War.
For I have
been convinced that there will be no peace and liberty or democracy
if the people have no idea or understanding about peace and liberty.
There will be no change in the society if people don't recognize
their strength, which is the confidence in themselves for action.
With all governments'
propaganda and with the fear government has instilled in their minds,
they cannot stand up for themselves. If they don't understand these
values, they don't love, treasure and prepare to stand up, demand
and fight for them, even if political documents and democratic institutions
existed. Worse, they will be vulnerable to be further manipulated
politically. So they will take whatever the government gives, and
give whatever the government takes from them.
I decided that
the only thing to do is to improve my people's economic condition
and, most important of all, their knowledge and understanding of
liberty and democracy at the same time. Thus, in 1997 I formally
applied for repatriation and urged other people to go back to visit
Vietnam to open up the limited contact of Vietnamese people inside
Vietnam with the outside world. I started a campaign to expose everything
that has been hidden from the people, and to demystify the propaganda
and fabrications of both sides, and those of the US Government.
Yet, this has
made me even more hated, or rather feared by all sides, the anti-communists
and the communists. They fear the truth. Outside Vietnam, the message
to me is be anti-communist and to support American Government, or
be their enemy. Inside Vietnam, be submissive to the communist regime,
or be the state enemy. Thus, the regime arrested me and detained
me for five days, and then expelled me. In Australia, in America,
and in Europe, where the "Vietnamese freedom fighters"
live, there are fabricated stories to demonize me with rumors and
gossip. The message to me now is "you are either with us or
against us." (Sounds like Bush!) They wanted me to fear them
to make a choice.
I chose to
be myself, and call a spade a spade. I am against any form of dictatorship
no matter how well disguised. Because I practice peace and liberty,
I have no fear.
without governments' propaganda and distortions, most of us love
peace and liberty, except those who benefit from war and those who
adore power. As long as fear exists in our minds, we will put up
with war and coercion out of fear and hatred. Peace and Liberty
will be only realized when we have no fear other than the fear of
not having them.
I now have
found that having no fear is so easy and so content. Just practice
peace and liberty.
by Robert Klassen.
him mail] fled Vietnam with the boat people in 1983 and has
lived in Australia since then. He returned to Vietnam in 1997, but
was expelled for anti-government activities. See his