Vietnam War / Tribute 08
Vietnam War / Tribute 08
A meeting was held in Wellington last week to discuss responses to 'Tribute 08: A Vietnam Commemoration' which glorifies NZ's role in an unjust and unjustifiable war. More than 2 million Vietnamese civilians died during the war, many more were maimed, and the physical environment was destroyed by massive bombing raids and poisoned by chemical weapons - the lethal legacy of unexploded munitions and toxic chemicals continues today. The NZ government has never apologised to the people of Viet Nam, although it has apologised to Vietnam war veterans and their families for the failure to care for them during and after the war.
Below is information about Tribute 08, and the details of the responses agreed at the meeting:
Time and time again - a pertinent comment from Tom Scott on ANZAC Day, 2008
Tribute 08 will take place in Wellington from Friday, 30 May to Sunday, 1 June 2008. It is described as "a unique opportunity to honour veterans and their families contribution to New Zealand ... an event of national significance with an international perspective and interest ... a truly memorable and significant occasion in New Zealand's history". It is funded by the government, and is a follow on event to the veteran organised 'welcome home' weekend in Wellington in May 1998.
Tribute 08 includes an exhibition 'Vietnam: Not Just a 12 Month Tour', an honour march to parliament, and a presentation of photos of "soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice", those killed in action and veterans who have died since - the photos will 'lie in state' at the Old Legislative Chamber (parliament). Information about Tribute 08 is available at http://www.tribute08.co.nz
The letter below will be sent to Vuong Hai Nam, Vietnamese Ambassador, on 30 May. If you would like to add your name and/or organisation to it, please send your name, position or title, and organisation (if signing as the representative of an organisation) or name, and town, city or region (if signing as an individual) to email by 5pm on Thursday, 29 May.
"On the occasion of the Tribute 08 in Wellington, 30 May 2008
It is thirty three years since the war in Viet Nam ended, yet we know that Viet Nam is still feeling its effects. We citizens of Aotearoa New Zealand wish to express our sincere regret for New Zealand's participation in the war and for the suffering inflicted on the people of Viet Nam. We look forward to the New Zealand Government formally apologising to the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam in the near future - an apology is long overdue."
With Committee on Vietnam speakers - "NZ sent troops to Viet Nam because the United States wanted the flags from other countries to defend its puppet regime in South Viet Nam. More than two million Vietnamese died in the war. The country was devastated. The horrible genetic legacy of the mass spraying of Agent Orange will persist for generations still unborn. NZ has nothing to be proud of. With the wisdom of hindsight NZ participation makes even less sense now than it did then.
So, why Tribute 08? Maybe the government sees some votes. It could be that Tribute 08 is less expensive than the mounting negligence claims for harm caused to the troops in the war. Most likely however is the opportunity to pander to the growing romanticism of serving in the armed forces overseas. NZ troops are in Afghanistan and Iraq, waving the NZ flag, in support of the US military carnage and disaster, just as enthusiastically as their predecessors did in Viet Nam. We are being increasingly drawn into involvements of "saving failed states" round the Pacific Rim. History is repeating itself."
From 6pm to 7.30pm, in the Mezzanine Floor meeting room, Wellington Central Library, Victoria Street; followed by refreshments. For more information, contact the organising group, c/o email.
There will be a peaceful protest on the route of the honour march with a banner and placards on the themes 'We remember ALL who suffered in the war in Viet Nam', 'Aid not parade', and 'When will the government apologise?'. This is intended to be a non-confrontational presence, aimed at the government's approach rather than the veterans, with space for those who would prefer a silent or prayer vigil. If you would like to take part in this protest, please gather at 10am, on the corner of Ballance Street and Lambton Quay. For more information, contact the organising group, c/o email.