In the face of Vietnam's endless agony, no one has the right to "indulge in private fantasies." Mr Bernard Smith's personal opinions in his letter of October 11, cannot alter the following facts:
On January 27, 1973, America, the mightiest military power on earth and the leader of the "free world" signed a solemn accord on Vietnam which acknowledged the existence of the Provisional Revolutionary Government on equal terms with the Saigon Government,
Since then, the PRO has received official diplomatic recognition from 38 countries. It also has diplomatic represen tatives in Indonesia, Sweden, France, Norway and Denmark, and was represented at the 1973 International Conference of Non-Aligned Nations held in Algeria.
On March 2, 1973, in the presence of the Secretary General of the United Nations, 12 countries, including the PRO, and incidentally our own Government, signed the Act of the International Conference on Vietnam to "solemnly acknowledge, express their approval and support of the Peace Agreement."
By this agreement, the PRG and the Saigon regime, together with the Third Force, or neutralists, are to form a
National Council which will organise free and democratic elections in South Vietnam. Many members of the Third Force, including Catholics and Buddhists, are at present suffering persecution, imprisonment and torture by the Thieu Government.
Pressure from international organisations, such as Amnesty International, and from governments and people throughout the world has forced President Thieu to release a few of their number, mainly prominent figures, and, at this late date, to allow some protest to surface.
Recent reports in the Western press have shown that Catholics and Buddhists arc calling for an end of political corruption and injustice and for the implementation of the Peace Agreement. Finally, Mr Bernard Smith has asked why the WCC should give aid to North Vietnam and the PRO. The answer is obvious. These are the areas of Vietnam which most need aid.
In these areas, the United
States "has expended over three times the amount of explosives used in all of World War II. One-seventh of the forest land has been defoliated with chemicals which cause birth defects, and over 6 per cent of Vietnam's crop land has been devastated, causing severe food shortages among civilians. Over twenty million bomb craters mar the countryside, and several hundred thousand unexploded bombs endanger attempts to reclaim farmland." (Indochina 1972: Statement of the Board of Directors, American Friends Service Committee).
Over the years, America has poured billions of dollars in aid to the Saigon regime. Figures for proposed aid to Saigon for fiscal year 1975 total $2.546 billion. Although America pledged in the Peace Agreement to "contribute to healing the wounds of war and to postwar reconstruction of the DRV (North Vietnam) and throughout Vietnam," this pledge has not been honoured with regard to North Vietnam and the PRG.
The decision of the WCC to aid these war-ravaged areas of Vietnam is an act of Christian mercy and should not be questioned, least of all by Christians.
Josephine Jemmett 15 Church Terrace, London, 5E13.