Vietnam - who else deserved an apology?

Murray had this to say about being contacted by media during the big apology to soldiers who fought in Vietnam.

I must say that I was bemused to be rung up to comment on this subject, not only by the Herald (see below) but also by Radio NZ for today’s Morning Report. It’s been many decades since I’ve been asked to comment about the Vietnam War. The Herald journalist wasn’t too sure of where I’d fitted into things – he asked me how many big Queen St anti-war marches I’d been on. I explained that as I’ve always lived in Christchurch the answer was none. I was even more bemused to be told by the Radio NZ reporter that she had been directed to me by former ACT MP Deborah Coddington (whom I’ve never met nor had any contact with). I told the reporter that I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Don’t ask me what the connection is, I have no idea.
Both CAFCINZ (now CAFCA) and ABC grew out of that anti-war movement of the 1960s and 70s, so this is part of our organisational (and individual) history).

NZ Herald Online 29/5/08

Now say sorry to Vietnam say anti-war protesters
5:00AM Thursday May 29, 2008By Edward Gay

Vietnam war protesters have welcomed an apology to veterans but say the Government should also apologise to the people of Vietnam.

Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt said he did not protest against the veterans but the Government that sent New Zealanders to fight in the war.

"What's been so painful for those soldiers is that they did their duty for the country and they've really been treated extremely badly by successive Governments in terms of the sickness that they picked up while serving there," Mr Shadbolt said. He said the Government's apology was a good thing for New Zealand and will "help heal the wounds".

"It will recognise the terrible ecological tragedy that so many went through that, at the time, neither the protesters or the soldiers were aware of."

Mr Shadbolt said the Vietnamese people also had deformed children and an apology should be made to them also.

He was at the early protests where only 50 to 100 people would show up and said it was not until 1971 that 35,000 took to the streets.

It was the television which "beamed horror stories into our living rooms every night" that swelled the protesters' numbers. "I'm sure if Gallipoli was on the news every night, or Passchendaele, the protests would have been far bigger than anything we ever staged," Mr Shadbolt said.

Another protester, Murray Horton, is now the spokesman for Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa. He said he was involved in the Progressive Youth Movement which, for three years in a row, laid a wreath at the war memorial on Anzac Day commemorating women and children killed by "fascism in Vietnam". The wreath included a poster of dead women and children, killed during the My Lai massacre.

He said the veterans deserved all the help they could get after being "sprayed with Agent Orange".

"I don't bear any grudges against New Zealand's Vietnam veterans. I ended up working with them," Mr Horton said, referring to his time as a railway worker after the war.

"There is a huge responsibility on the countries, including New Zealand, that were involved in spraying Vietnam with the stuff. It was appalling. I understand hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Vietnamese were adversely affected by genetic defects and God knows what else."

Geoff Chapple, also a protester, said the effects of Agent Orange and other chemicals had been covered up and veterans deserved an apology.

"And there should be an apology to the Vietnamese for an American foreign policy which was pretty simplistic," Mr Chapple said.

He said the apology should come from the US Government.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The only people who REALLY deserve an apology from the protesters of the Viet Nam War protesters who belittled the returning Vets are the Veterans that were mistreated by the American public. These men fought and DIED for what they believed was RIGHT regardless. We, the Americans who have no idea of what they went through, should HONOR THEM and apologize.