The Communist Reprisals

29 Tháng Mười 201312:00 SA(Xem: 1802)
The Communist Reprisals

The Việt Minh violence against Hòa Hảo Buddhism was not an isolated incident but a well-thought-of policy designed to eliminate the rival political forces. When the French attacked Saigon on September 23, 1945, the Communists proved unable to resist militarily. However, in September and October the Việt Minh security police detained and executed scores of nationalist leaders and activists. In fact the Communist authorities seized the opportunity to arrest many nationalist leaders of whom some had little if anything to do with the anti-Communist movement.

Notably, on October 8 the Communist forces arrested Trần Văn Thạch, Phan Văn Hùm, Phan Văn Chánh, Nguyễn Văn Sổ and 64 other Trotskyist activists who had retreated from Saigon to Thủ Đức. They were reportedly thrown alive into the Lòng Sông River in Bình Thuận Province with their hands tied. Early in September, the Trotskyist leader Tạ Thu Thâu was arrested in Quãng Ngãi Province as he traveled from Saigon to Hanoi. The 39-year-old Thâu was executed in the Mỹ Khê area. It has been argued that the execution was ordered by Trần Văn Giàu though he and Tạ Thu Thâu had both studied together in France.

In October, the Việt Minh police detained a number of nationalist leaders including Trần Quang Vinh, Hồ Văn Ngà, Dương Văn Giáo, Bùi Quang Chiêu, and Huỳnh Văn Phương. Notably, Hồ Văn Ngà fell victim to his belief that Trần Văn Giàu was his true friend. Although Trần Quang Vinh, Hồ Văn Ngà and Vũ Tam Anh were kept at the same detention camp in Cà Mau, in early 1946 Vinh and Anh managed to escape while Ngà was executed in Rạch Gia later that year. Veteran politicians Dương Văn Giáo and Bùi Quang Chiêu also perished in the course of the Communist purges as well as many other nationalist activists.

During the fall of 1945, the Communists played nationalist feelings and launched a massive campaign against “traitors,” or Việt Gian. The policy aimed at forcing the ordinary people to obey the Việt Minh orders and simultaneously eliminating the rival politicians. Anyone labeled as a “traitor” had little, if any, chances to survive. In fact the policy was widely abused in order to eliminate anti-Communist opposition.

According to Trịnh Hưng Ngẫus recollections, when Trần Văn Giàu fled to Thailand in 1946 they met in Bangkok on June 13. Trần Văn Giàu reportedly conceded to Trịnh Hưng Ngẫu that during his stay in power he had personally ordered execution of 2,500 nationalist activists. The idea was presumably to replace the nationalists with Communist cadres.

According to Trần Văn Âns memoirs, in late 1945, Trần Văn Giàu and Nguyễn Văn Trần, gave Bình Xuyên leader Bảy Viễn a list of several hundred intellectuals to be executed. In his reported obscenity-laden reply Bảy Viễn refused bluntly and said that independence did not mean killing intelligentsia “otherwise who was going to work?” In one particular incident Bảy Viễn observed some Avant-Guarde Youth members detain Lê Văn Ngọ, an engineer, and prepared to have his stomach cut open. Bảy Viễn queried his crime and the reply was that Ngọ had a French wife. Then Bảy Viễn ordered the release of Ngọ who eventually became Bảy Viễns trusted supporter.

As far as the southern religious communities were concerned, in late 1945 the Communists murdered thousands of Hòa Hảo and Cao Đài followers. In the wake of the Cần Thơ demonstration, nearly 10,000 Hòa Hảo adepts were killed by the Việt Minh troops. Moreover, some 70 percent of Hòa Hảo intellectuals fell victims to the Communist purges in late 1945. These losses entailed a long-term leadership crisis within the Hòa Hảo community.
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