Thursday, 12 February 2009

UO student leader visits North Vietnam, says Reds will never quit

By Douglas Seymour
December 30, 1970

American student leaders actually signed two "peace treaties" in North Vietnam earlier this month according to University of Oregon Student Body President Ron Eachus, one of the U.S. signers.

He said one was signed with the North Vietnamese Student Union and the South Vietnamese Liberation Students Union. The other was signed by the South Vietnamese Student Union.

Eachus said the real significance of the declarations is the position taken by the South Vietnamese Students Union, which is the recognized above-ground union of students in Saigon government-controlled universities.

"In a declaration developed separately from that in the North and without any knowledge of what the declaration in the North said, the union adopted the same basic position regarding U.S. forces and Thieu and Ky," Eachus said.

U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam by June 30, 1971 is the key provision in both "peace treaties," he said.

Eachus was one of the delegation of American anti-war student leaders that met with the Vietnamese students in North Vietnam from Dec. 4 to Dec. 19.

The American students went to North Vietnam to work on the treaties as a result of action taken by the National Student Association at its convention in August.

Eachus said there was no discussion of North Vietnam involvement in the South Vietnam fighting at the meeting. He said the students agreed that the U.S. shouldn't be in Vietnam in the first place and should get out by June 30 next year, the date which was mentioned in the Hatfield - McGovern amendment that the U.S. Senate failed to pass.

In addition to calling for U.S. troop withdrawal, the student agreements say the U.S. must refrain from violating the sovereignty of Vietnam with forces operating from bases outside that country. Eachus said that specifically means there will be no air raids by planes operating from Thailand.

"The second basic point of the declaration is that support for Thieu, Ky and Kiem must be withdrawn by the U.S. This is a natural sequel to the first condition. Thieu and Ky represent a line of repressive governments used by the U.S. to justify its presence there," Eachus said.

A coalition government with members of the Thieu-Ky administration is acceptable to those fighting against them, but neither of the two men can be a part of it, Eachus said.

"In all of our discussions and in the still conspicuous effects of U.S. bombings, it became clear that the Vietnamese are not likely to rescind their demand for total U.S. withdrawal. It is the cause which has driven Communist and non-Communist to fight," Eachus said.

He said the North Vietnamese laughed at the term "Viet Cong" because they claimed it gave the Communist credit for the liberation movement when most of the forces fighting the U.S. in South Vietnam were non-Communist.

"The Vietnamese history is a record of continual struggle against foreign control. The history books emphasize victories over Mongols, Chinese, feudal lords and more recently the French and the United States," he said.

He maintains that ever since the U.S. began giving military aid to the French during their defeat at Dien Bien Phu in 1954, the Vietnamese have viewed the United States as the imperialist successor to France.

"That is why both the North Vietnamese and South Vietnamese Liberation Front cannot accept President Nixon's cease-fire proposal. To do so would be a recognition of the right of the United States to be in South Vietnam," Eachus said.

This principle, he said, is the reason the Vietnam forces have been able to continue the war for so long and that it was around this principle that the delegations signed their peace declarations.

The South Vietnamese Students Union, which involves students in Saigon government-controlled universities, began promoting guerrilla-like tactics in Saigon and other cities a week after the agreement was signed with American students as a result of the shooting of a Vietnamese youth by U.S. soldiers in Qua Nang, Eachus said.

He said the action was taken by non-Communist students "and should serve further notice that the opposition to U.S. presence in Vietnam is not solely Communist and not confined to the countryside.

"It is this increasing activity by students and others in the areas controlled by the Saigon government that make it even more unlikely the liberation forces will take a less hard-nosed stand on U.S. presence in Vietnam," Eachus said.

Those fighting against the U.S. believe they have already defeated the United States and will continue to do so, he said.

"Vietnamization and pacification to them are new phases of the war in which the U.S. will also lose because it will be withdrawing only to face new fronts of liberation in the cities and refugee camps," he said.

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