King Bhumibol Adulyadej turns 80 on Dec 5, 2006, and I thought I’d post a few pics in his honour. King Poom as I like to call him, or Rama IX, is the longest serving head of state and despite his expression and running shoes in the 3rd photo, is not retarded. He is, in fact, great.
Filed under: APEC, army, bush, Death Penalty, empires, expat, free press, freedom, Hanoi, ho chi minh city (saigon), News and politics, politics, Uncategorized, US, vietnam
US citizens on trial in Vietnam
Vietnamese prosecutors have accused the group of terrorism
Three US citizens and four Vietnamese have gone on trial in Vietnam charged with terrorism. They are accused of attempting to set up illegal transmitters to make anti-communist radio broadcasts inside the country.
Correspondents says the case may complicate ties with the US ahead of President George W Bush’s visit next week and a Congressional vote on trade. The trial in Ho Chi Minh City is expected to last no more than a day.
All of the seven defendants are of Vietnamese origin, but three – Nguyen Thuong Cuc, also known as Cuc Foshee, Huynh Bich Lien and Le Van Binh – also have US citizenship.
Local press reports have linked them to a California-based anti-communist organisation called the Government of Free Vietnam. They are alleged to have brought transmitters and other equipment into Vietnam from neighbouring Cambodia.
They were hoping to take over local radio stations and broadcast anti-government radio messages, according to the BBC correspondent in Hanoi, Bill Hayton.
The case is being heard exactly a week before President Bush arrives in Vietnam to attend the annual Asia-Pacific summit (Apec). It may also complicate scheduled votes in the US Congress intended to permanently normalise trade relations between America and Vietnam, our correspondent says.
Senator Mel Martinez from Florida, the home state of one of the accused, has threatened to block the bill because of the case. That would be an embarrassment to both governments, which have heralded the bill as symbolising their new partnership.
If found guilty of terrorism, the accused could face sentences ranging from 12 years in jail to the death penalty. The Vietnamese government is currently trying to extradite a man it calls the leader of the plot, Nguyen Huu Chanh, from South Korea.
An earlier attempt failed. Mr Chanh was one of the founders of the Government of Free Vietnam.
The Government of Free Vietnam is an anti-communist paramilitary and political organization that was established on April 30, 1995, by its founder Nguyen Hoang Dan. Its headquarters are in Garden Grove, California. The organization’s goal is to remove the government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, either politically or militarily.
The Government of Free Vietnam claims 6,000 members and 100,000 supporters who were trained in secret camp locations along the Vietnamese/Cambodian border. They also claim 75 chapters in Asia, Australia, and Europe. Although the GFVN prides itself on its widespread support, many argue that the GFVN never received a true mandate to represent the Vietnamese diaspora.
They have a base of operations in KC-702, a secret base along the border between Vietnam and Cambodia.
Filed under: Afghanistan, army, Canada, empires, freedom, News and politics, Uncategorized
I’ve been asked a few times why I’m not freelancing for Canadian/North American publications.
At first, I questioned it myself. Was it a sort of defect? Laziness? I seriously doubted it was laziness, since when I was in Vietnam I was editing the majority of a thick tourist mag as well as working for the daily paper. And here in Bangkok, I’m at the office until at the earliest 6:30 every night. I supposed I could go out on weekends and talk to people, attend the few protest rallies against the coup, etc. but to be honest I don’t have a valid work visa yet and I don’t particularly want to be expelled by the kingdom (or shot by some trigger-happy zitfaced teen soldier).
More importantly though, my issue with the “why aren’t you freelancing in the west” question is that these days it strikes me as a little bit racist. Not in the big, nasty scary racist way, but in the way that assumes that Western press is more prestigious or important. I can’t say I’ve developed much insight in my time in southeast Asia, but what I am beginning to see are the signs of a declining (American) empire and a rising ‘third world’ empire. The new power may be China, India, maybe even Japan, who knows, it could be a stark raving mad Kim Jong-il armed to the teeth with atom bombs and high heels. Whoever it is, in the next few centuries the world will belong to the east.
People may be shocked at the assertion that the west is on the decline. While the economic and capital flow eastward is a little easier to perceive, it’s the power flow that’s barely perceptible but oh so important.
For all the violence committed in the name of money, resources, political favours, all I can say is “you reap what you sow.” The damage done, by all parties and governments and armed groups since January 17, 1961, the day Dwight D. Eisenhower warned the world of linking industry and wealth with war, is scandalous plain and simple.
The rampant exploitation of land, corrupt governments, ongoing denials of basic human rights, torture and secret prisons are all landmines on any road to co-existing peacefully.
Or have we given that up as option by now?
Without peace and security, the economy can’t thrive and there will eventually be civil unrest. If nations don’t pursue peace and security as long term policies and instead work against it for gain, well, what is sown will be reaped. And sadly the victims will be innocent citizens already cheated by their governments.
Speaking of living peace to spread peace, we need Canadian troops focused on rebuilding Afghanistan’s schools, hospitals and roads, doing beneficial work while protecting the civilans. I’m all for our special ops forces doing their work wherever it sends them, but there are approximately 19,500 US soldiers in Afghanistan so why do we keep hearing about Canadians fighting and dying in the frontlines? If Canada hadn’t been willing to send troops to Afghanistan maybe it would have put another obstacle in the path of George Bush’s march to war. But that’s another issue.