Monday, 9 February 2009

Statement by David Ifshin, President of the U.S. National Student Association

Release Time: 11:00, November 27, 1970

The recent bombing and incredible invasion of North Vietnam has made it clear to American students that they must vigorously renew their efforts to end the tragic war in South East Asia. We interpret the escalation of the war as a clear indication that Nixon--after ten years and 45,000 American dead--is still attempting to achieve a total military victory in Vietnam. In August, 1970, the representatives of five-hundred college and university student governments passed a resolution mandating the president of the USNSA to "engage in negotiations for a peace treaty between the students of North and South Vietnam, and the United States." Since that time, the USNSA has received invitations from the National Union of Students of both North and South Vietnam to explore this possibility. In response to these invitations, student leaders from all sections of the nation have assembled this week in Washington to prepare for a trip to Vietnam.

While in Vietnam, the USNSA delegations will engage in discussions and negotiations with the official representatives of the Vietnamese student unions. We are hopeful that we will return with a joint statement that will outline steps for ending the war. This statement will then be presented to a nationwide conference of student leaders, projected for late January at Kent State University. Hopefully, this conference will initiate preparations for major anti-war demonstrations to take place in the spring.

It is important to note that it has been one month since the delegation has applied for visas, and we still have not received them. The charge de affairs of the Vietnamese embassy informed USNSA that there would be no problem in obtaining visas for the American student leaders. On Monday, November 23, I received a telephone call from the Vietnamese embassy information me that a cable had arrived from Saigon stating "under no conditions will you issue a visa to David Ifshin." In light of the free passage of South Vietnamese Vice President Nguyen Cao Ky through the United States, we strongly feel that the refusal to allow American students travel through South Vietnam is a bold contradiction of the democratic principles the United States government claims to be fighting for in Vietnam. We find it ironic that the government of our supposed enemy welcomes us to enter their country and meet with their students, while South Vietnam takes an unprecedented stand of refusing to allow the meeting of National Union of Students leaders with their foreign counterparts. We feel that it is incumbent upon the South Vietnamese government and President Nixon to explain why the duly elected representatives of American students cannot enter South Vietnam, especially in light of the recent trip by students supporting the Nixon Administration's viewpoint. We feel this situation is a further demonstration that the illegal and corrupt regime in South Vietnam does not want the American public to know what the true political situation is in South Vietnam. The students in South Vietnam have been joining with students throughout the world in protesting the war. Their actions in producing a redress of grievances with their government has resulted in the imprisonment, torture, and death of our fellow students. We feel a deep kinship and sense of responsibility for the students of Vietnam, and we shall follow the mandate of the USNSA, and even more important, the mandate of our conscience to do all we can to end the war.

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