A. VIET NAM - A NATION OF PEACE AND TOLERANCE
(On the Vietnamese Traditional Endeavor for Peace)
by Mr Duong Trung Quoc, Secretary General, Viet Nam Association of History Research
1. A Nation with an Age-Old Culture of Tolerance and Integration
In the Vietnamese people's traditional education system, Tam Tu Kinh (a school manual in Chinese characters with only three-worded sentences) started: "Man was born with humanist nature".
It is true in all cases. But for each locality and community with different circumstances, men and their community will have different cultural characters reflected in the ways of life and greater social conducts, i.e. the relations within one community or between different nations.
Viet Nam was born thousands of years ago in the basin of the Red and Ma River. In the course of time and with their indigenous strength, the people of Viet Nam extended their land across the rivers flowing to the Eastern Sea from the Truong Son Range... Three centuries ago, it had extended itself to the fertile Mekong Delta, completing the border of the nation under the name of Dai Viet (Great Viet), Dai Nam (Great Southern State), and now Viet Nam.
On the world map, Viet Nam links the Eastern and Southern parts of Asia where exist two longest and greatest cultures of the humankind: the Indian and Chinese cultures. Geographically it is the location with a double name, i.e. India-China consisting of numerous countries in Southeast Asia, with an S-shaped country called Viet Nam. Geopolitically there was once a locality as a French colony under the name of India- China or l'Indochine francaise (French Indochina) consisting of three countries divided into five parts... which existed for half a century (1897-1945) in a federation-like linkage.
These geographical features had strong impacts on the social life and contributed to shaping the characters of the Vietnamese and their community. Therefore two permanent factors that exerted strong influences on Viet Nam's culture are: the India and China ones, plus another element imported under specific circumstances of each historical period and the indigenous culture of the Vietnamese and other ethnic minorities of the Community.
These factors are analysed below:
(i) Lying close to a great kingdom and also a great culture in the North, i.e. China, the Vietnamese through different periods of history came under two- way profound and constant impacts: acceptance (of those elements which added to national strength) and resistance (to avoid the danger of assimilation). The Chinese culture had both familiar features of a wetland-rice civilization in the South and the alien ones of the nomad civilization with dry-land rice cultivation in the North. And above all was the politio-culture of Great Han Expansionism. Pressure of possible invasions from the North became a permanent factor... All these contributed to the flexible cultural conduct of the Vietnamese people towards the China factor: acceptance (for national strength) while resistance in principle but not to the political extreme (to preserve national independence).
(ii) Though far away in geographical terms, the Indian Culture had no less profound influence mainly through Buddhism on the culture of Viet Nam and on the characters of the Vietnamese, particularly those communities living in the Northern part of Viet Nam who took part in the constant Southern Advance in their long history. The Vietnamese people had once accepted Buddhism as their National Religion (e.g. Ly -Tran Dynasties). Unlike the salvage infiltration of the China factor (in the wake of the invasion or domination), the Indian Culture came in through long and peaceful Buddhist missions.The Southeast Asian environment under profound influence of the Indian culture together with the island and wetland rice culture constituted a constant counter-weight to the Chinese culture up North. But they became two supplementary sources through Viet Nam's cultural conduct imbued with tolerance and integration.
(iii) As a nation, Viet Nam on its own account had opportunities to get into contact with different cultures. In the course of their history, the Vietnamese people also came to the contacts with the French, Japanese, Russian and American cultures. This helped enrich their culture and at the same time further promoted their openness and integration, which contributed to formulating their conduct toward such issues as war and peace, hostility and cooperation...
(iv) The outstanding traditional values which stemmed from the Wetland Rice Civilization created factors for shaping the characters of Viet Nam and its people. The requirement for concerted efforts and cooperation in harnessment and exploitation of water resources brought the communal spirit of the Vietnamese people to a fore. The role of hamlets, villages, production teams and communities (in management of production tools, dikes and irrigation systems) became very important. Besides the kin relationship and family role, the neighbouring relations was respected, the relations between communities being strengthened.
The afore-mentioned factors constituted a foundation for the early formulation in Viet Nam of the elements that contained a Culture of Peace. Is it due to these cultural factors that in Viet Nam's history, those most sensitive issues related to war and violence like the religious and ethnic ones didn't become acute. The conduct by the State and people related to religious issues imbued with tolerance; some religious and/or ethnic conflicts were often linked with political manoeuvers (e.g. the Leftist-killing policy under Nguyen Dynasty or the abuse of religions by colonialism...).
In Viet Nam, while the indigenous religions and faiths were maintained, new religions were accepted for peaceful co-existence, without any discrimination. "Tam giao dong nguyen" ("Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism all came from one source") was unique in a sense that it accepted their peaceful co-existence in the people's social and spiritual life. Caodaism, a special phenomenon of this century was a vivid testimony to the Vietnamese people's cultural conduct towards tolerance and harmony. The characteristics of a traditional Vietnamese society was outlined by Nguyen Ai Quoc in his "Appeal to the League of Nations" on 30 August 1926:
"...What was Viet Nam like before the French domination? It was an independent country, which knew how to earn respect from its neighbours while still despising war and military obligations by using only its militiamen for national defence. It was a democracy under absolute monarchy but hamlets and villages still enjoyed freedom and autonomy, education at all levels being free, and feudalism and the clergy being discarded. It was a nation founded on the linguistic, religious, ethnic and customs unity. And finally, as admitted by the French personalities, the Vietnamese have a culture of good virtues".
As for ethnic relations, there was in history oppression by the feudal regimes of ethnic minorities and their uprisings against the regime, but there was no ethnic conflict. The policy on peaceful co-existence, solidarity among ethnic minorities, linkages through cross-marriages, persuasion and linkages by the State was pursued... This was clearly reflected in time of resistance war for national salvation, and particularly in the cause of national liberation in the XX century.
These are the traditional foundation of the factors for a culture of peace in the age-old Vietnamese culture. In time of peace, it came in a natural manner in rural communities, in customs, faiths and in the richness of the folklore treasure. It became more visualised particularly in time of war trials.
2. A Nation Suffering from Numerous Wars Earnestly Longs for Peace
Viet Nam has its age-old history and thousand years-long culture. But when referring to Viet Nam's history, one tends to focus on its continuous wars and its tradition of fighting against foreign aggressions for national salvation. Only one look at the passing XX century is enough to appraise the fighting spirit of the Vietnamese people to found a state, and to defend national independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity. Starting from the verse "the mountains and rivers of this Southern nation were inhabited by its King and people" by Ly Thuong Kiet on the Nhu Nguyet frontline in the X century to the Declaration of Independence and "Nothing is more precious than independence and freedom" by Ho Chi Minh in the XX century, it was a long way in the struggle for national survival: The Ly Dynasty had to fight the Sung aggression. The Tran Dynasty three times defeated the Mongols. The Le Dynasty started after 20 years-long domination by the Ming invaders and 10 years of resistance. Then came the Trinh-Nguyen conflict; the Tay Son defeated the Siamese, and drove the Qing aggressors out of the country. Next was nearly one hundred years under the French domination. And finally the XX century was recorded as the hiatus of the struggle for national liberation: under the leadership of the Viet Nam Communist Party and President Ho Chi Minh, the Vietnamese people conducted a successful revolution to wrest back independence, then carried out a thirty years-long war to defeat two great power and reunified the country...
But the entire history of these ferocious wars only sheds light on the burning aspiration for and tradition of peace of the Vietnamese people. They were always victims of wars of aggression and forced to take up arms to fight for national defence, the only means that they had to use to preserve peace not for themselves, but for other peoples as well.
Even those wars that the Vietnamese had to conduct outside their border like the attacks by Ly Thuong Kiet against the Kham and Liem Prefectures in the X century, or the war against the Khmer Rouge-Polpot genocidal clique in the XX century were out of self-defence. By this time, when the Khmer Rouge genocidal clique has been wiped out and tried, the world community can understand more clearly what Viet Nam had to do in the 1980's (1979-1989).
Historical evidences will also testify to the wish by Viet Nam's fuedal dynasties to have friendship with their neighbours, and their readiness to accept the status of a vessal state with all the rituals of submission to the big power just to preserve friendship, to avoid war on a fundamental principle of preserving their national independence and territorial integrity. That was a consistant lines in the history of diplomacy of Viet Nam's feudal dynasties.
The peace-loving spirit, and the aspiration to build relations of friendship and harmony were also manifest even after the victories in the war of resistance against foreign aggression. It showed the human attitude in the settlement of the war consequences, the willingness to bury the hatchet, to abolish the hot bed of war and to build friendly relations.
Examples can be best taken from the war of resistance against the Ming aggressors in the XV century.
In the two years from 1426 to 1427, the Ming aggressors were determined to escalate the war by five times deployment of soldiers to make a 300.000-strong army. In the Chi Lang, Xuong Giang battles, our insurgents had worn down the enemy's force and began to encircle Dong Quan fortress where 100.000 Ming soldiers were stationed under General Vuong Thong's command. The Ming aggressors' crimes were "hated by the people, and not forgiven by the Almighty" as Nguyen Trai wrote in the "Announcement on the Ming's Defeat". Someone advised Le Loi of "killing them all". But standing for "winning the heart and mind to defeat the enemy without launching battles", Le Loi deployed his army to surround the fortress while his talented and humanist adviser Nguyen Trai patiently send letters of persuasion and he himself five times entered the "tiger's den to convince them of an armistice for the interests of the two countries at war" (Thank-giving Letter). The war finally ended as Nguyen Trai wrote in his "Chi Linh Verse":
"For long-lasting peace of the country,
Then the two sides held an oath-swearing ritual on 10 December 1427 when Vuong Thong pledged "to bring the troops home without waiting for the reinforcement". On 29 December the encirclement was lifted and the Ming aggressors began withdrawing. "The Ming troops came to Bo De, Le Loi and Nguyen Trai's headquarters, taking a bow, weeping from thanks and shame... before going home" (Dai Viet Su ky Toan thu, Book 10, p.47a).
"Great humanity over tyranny and wisdom over violence " was the Vietnamese people's pattern of striving for peace, thus "the nation has been safe and reformed ever since" (The Announcement)
It should be added that after ending the war peacefully, Le Loi took the initiative to free 20.000 prisoners, letting them go home with all their weapons. On the significance of the victory, Nguyen Trai wrote: " our people get out of a miserable situation and equally the Chinese soldiers out of the unhappiness of the war", "our two countries out of the misfortune of the war", and
"China and Viet Nam now belong to one family,
The humanist and peaceful ideas can be said to lie in the core of all the Vietnamese people's just struggles.
After the victory in his blitz attacks that defeated the Qing aggressors in the Year of the Chicken (1789), Quang Trung Nguyen Hue on the one hand ordered all Le Chieu Thong followers to return home; they didn't have to serve as mandarins if they so wished; and on the other hand, he ordered to feed the Qing prisoners of war and surrendered soldiers. Quang Trung made clear his humanist policy in "Decree on the POW's":
"In war, it is normal to kill the enemy. But it is unprecedented to free the captured enemy soldiers... The captured or surrendered soldiers should have been beheaded to deter others. But in conformity with the Almighty's wish and for tolerance, I spare your lives. I decree that you won't be beaten or shackled, but will join the army and be fed instead"
Quang Trung also ordered to gather the corpses to bury and set up temples along the rivers for their annual rituals. Furthermore, he sent envoys to China with his apologies and requests for reconciliation.
In the most recent wars of resistance for national defence, the Vietnamese people's tradition of peace still prevails. It was clearly reflected in the revolutionary guidelines, and particularly in President Ho Chi Minh.
We have now had sufficient evidences to show that the first and second Indochina wars are the products of the war-mongering factions in the French and the US political circles in total disregard of the goodwill and the wish for peace on the part of Viet Nam. Historical archives showed that all the efforts and determination by President Ho Chi Minh in the diplomatic activities in 1945-1946 aimed at avoiding the conflict and at fostering a relations of friendship and cooperation with France after the Second World War didn't succeed due to the manoeuvers of sabotage and hindrance from the colonialist force in the French Right.
The Viet Nam War by the US had ended. The admission by McNamara revealed that the United States had made serious mistakes in intervening in and launching the war of aggression against Viet Nam. While determined to wage a war of liberation, Viet Nam often looked to the opportunities to settle it at the negotiation table. We despise war and love peace on a fundamental principle of safeguarding national sovereignty. "A people who earnestly loves their own independence should not encroach upon the other's". That is the soul of genuine internationalism, the foundation of a genuine peace.
It is therefore in my opinion, the statement by President Ho Chi Minh at the most salvage time of the war "Nothing is more precious than independence and freedom" is also the most profound appeal for peace, and the very content of the idea of peace in Viet Nam's culture./.
B. SOME IDEAS ON PEACE AND THE CULTURE OF PEACE
by Mr Nguyen Van Huynh, Vice President, Viet Nam Peace Committee
It is my honor as member of the Viet Nam Peace Committee to attend the seminar on the culture of peace organized in Hanoi by the Viet Nam National Commission for UNESCO in its co-operation with the UNESCO/Paris to prepare the program of actions in response to the decision taken by the United Nations to name the year 2000 as the international year of the culture of peace.
This is not only a significant event in the international life today but also an appropriate step to push up world peace movement as it is happening at a time when the mankind is in the juncture of the two centuries.
The 20th century which is coming to a close has left into the mankind's history two hot world wars, one cold war, and hundreds of regional wars and military conflicts which have caused uncountable damage to materials and killed more than one hundred million people. Even today when we are here in a peaceful atmosphere to discuss the most important issue of all the time that is peace and the culture of peace, and all mankind are hoping for the betters in the coming century, the people of the Republic of Yugoslavia, an independent and sovereign state is suffering fierce air strikes by NATO.
The 21st century is approaching with our earnest hope of durable peace, love, co-operation and prosperous and sustainable development. But "the development of technology and military weapons has resulted in what amounts to a shrinking of our planet. Economic intercourse between countries has made the nations of the world more dependent upon one another than ever before". That situation has been always putting before mankind opportunities and challenges, calling for the necessity to joint hand globally to fight, to educate and to create and consolidate the culture of peace.
The questions of peace, its culture as well as violence has their history as old as the mankind's history and civilization. While the culture of peace upholds the common values and the objectives of all mankind, the violence in the contrary focuses into the destruction and annihilation of mankind itself.
The maxim based on the saying of the Romans that "if you desire peace, prepare for war" has been always prevailing the mind of the forces hanging on violence to satisfy their ambition to rule the world and other nations and becoming their traditional means to settle conflicts, On the other end there is the belief of the people desiring, fighting and educating for peace as "peace is every one's business".
Nowadays there are two concepts existing together . The narrow one is that peace means the absence of war and the larger one is that peace is not only the absence of war as the root of wars and of conflicts is not only to come from the ambition to rule the world but also to come from hunger, diseases, backward development, illiteracy, exploitation, oppression, destruction of the environment and other reasons. The president of the Republic of South Africa, Mr. Nelson Mandela is right when he said that security for minority was insecure for all. That means there will be no genuine peace when there is no equality, no independence and no freedom.
To build the culture of peace first of all is to change the conception on peace and carry out the education for peace as "war occurred in the man's mind that is why the fortress to defence peace must be built in the man's mind itself' .
The conception of peace and war has its deep psychological impact because if a, man focuses on war either hoping to victory or fearing the destruction, in subtle ways he may make war probable. Conversely if a man tends ' himself on peace, especially if he is realistic as well as imaginative in his thinking he will work for peace, and for the defense of peace. He will focus on reconciliation tolerance, non-violence, responsibility, mutual respect and positive co-operation, etc. That is the contrary between war and peace, between the violence and the culture of peace. Through peace is sacred and noble but it is not at any price and must be in national independence, freedom and development, must closely bind to democracy and social progress.
Since the end of the cold war, the danger of another world war has been pushed back but the regional wars, the military, ethical, religious conflicts, the military interventions has been taken place more than before at the same time the struggle of the world peace loving people has been gaining momentum day by day . Its content is still bearing the characters of our time and demonstrating positively the basis content of the building of the culture of peace. That is :
President Ho Chi Minh, a world's cultural celebrity is the founder, organiser and leader of peace activities of Viet Nam and the Viet Nam Peace Committee. His ideas of peace constitute major orientations for the goal of building the culture of peace in Viet Nam.
Throughout 4,000 years of National construction and defence, Viet Nam has built a culture profound with national identity filled with deep humanity, acts as the foundation for the construction of a culture of peace. Since the founding of the Viet Nam Communist Party in 1930 , under the leadership of the Party and Ho Chi Minh , the Vietnamese culture and its culture of peace have been brought into full play. And it was Ho Chi Minh who laid the foundations for Viet Nam's current culture of peace with the deep thinking that "no thing is more precious than national independence and freedom". That demontrates in his life, his work his cause thinking and will we would rather sacrifice all but never let loss the country and be the slavery or that a genuine peace must be a real independence.
Nearly 50 years ago, in order to actively respond and contribute to the world peace movement during our people's resistance war against French colonialists, President Ho Chi Minh advocated to launch the movement and the foundation of the Viet Nam Committee for Defence of World Peace in November 19, 1950 at the Viet Bac Revolutionary base where He was elected as honorary Chairman of the VPC and Viet Nam's peace fighter No1.
The coming into being of the Viet Nam Committee for defense of world peace met the entire people's peace desire , thus winning the active response and participation of the Vietnamese people and the strong and widespread support by the world peace movement.
Over the past years the peace campaign has been continuously maintained to take signatures for total abolishment of nuclear weapons, to organize such peace activities as peace-run, peace-bicycle races and environmental day for peace in many localities... As a founding member of the World Peace Council and one of its Vice-President , the Viet Nam Peace Committee has established relations with hundreds of national and international peace organizations, and together with friends all over the world responded to and participated in peace activities, playing a worthy role in the world peace movement.
President Ho Chi Minh's ideas on the close ties between the struggle for peace of our people and the world people has become the impetus for peace activities in Viet Nam during the last half century, creating effective results contributing to implementing our revolutionary tasks in different periods and to the world peace movement. Addressing at the second National Congress of the Communist Party of Viet Nam, in the Political Report, He pointed out that "The world situation is closely linked to the situation of our country. The victory of the Democracy is ours and our victory is the Democracy's. So, our current motto is "To totally seize independence, unity and to safeguard world peace".
In reality, President Ho Chi Minh has spent much work following and conducting activities of the Viet Nam peace movement, in which he attached great work of the world peace movement into ours and also cared much for the methods of peace activities. In His Report at the fourth plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the Party (of the second Congress) at the end of January 1953 when dealing with the peace movement He said that: "in recent years, we have done, but made mistakes, had activities in width but not in depth, in formal but not in practical , as we only relied on the work of some particular cardres while others have not attached much attention of it. This year, we need to do it more practically so as to make our people understand that to support to the world peace is to closely relate to the development of our resistance".
The just struggle of our people for peace national independence, freedom and unification in the past as well as the task of peace, reconstruction and protection at present containing noble humanity values and being the basic content of a culture of peace has gained the support and encourage of the peace solidarity and friendship movement in the world and in many countries . A front of world people including the French and American people in solidarity with Viet Nam was in reality formed at a time, many peace organizations in the world and in countries considered the activities in support to Viet Nam as one of their primarytasks, a Viet Nam generation had come in being in the world.
Today the renovation process which is implemented in our country have gained important achievements. The cause of building socialism and defending the Fatherland of our people is enjoying the support from forces of peace, national independence, democracy and progress all over the world. A lot of international organizations and foreign friends have been cooperating with us to implement humanitarian aid projects, to get over the war consequences, to alleviate poverty and hunger etc.
Imbued with the President Ho Chi Minh's ideas while expressing the gratitude to the international friends for their solidarity sentiment our people have cooperated actively with them , endorsing any initiative of countries for peace, national liberation, promoting friendship relation and cooperation, supporting 5 principles of peaceful coexistence, anticipating the movement of total band and abolition of nuclear weapons, supporting and participating into activities in response to the year 1986, the international year of peace, and to the decade of cultural development (1988-1997). That has heightened the symbol and position of Viet Nam in the world thus making the name of "Viet Nam- Ho Chi Minh" being considered as a symbol of peace and friendship and being still deep in the memory of international friends. That also makes our people more confident in their struggle for peace, independence and development.
The Political report of the 8th National Congress of the Communist Party of Viet Nam pointed out that:" In the field of external relations, out task in the period to come consists in consolidating the peaceful environment and creating further favourable international conditions to step up socio-economic development and national industrialization and modernization in service of national construction and defence, making active contributions to the common struggle of the world's people for peace, national independence, democracy and social progress".
'That is the objective of the peace movement in Viet Nam and of the Viet Nam Peace Committee and also basic contents in the building of a culture of peace aimed at creating a peaceful and stable environment for national construction and defence and building a prosperous, powerful civilized and equitable Viet Nam.
At the turn of the century, the year 2000 is the one with many important anniversaries and festivals that include many peace activities. The Viet Nam Peace Committee, as a socio-political organization working for peace and friendship, warmly welcomes the decision taken by the UN General Assembly to name the year 2000 the international year of the culture of peace. Considering the building of the culture of peace a long-term task , in the near future, the Viet Nam Peace Committee will map out programs - of action to welcome the great events of the year 2000, positively mobilize all strata of people to be involved in peace activities, respond to activities in the international year, of the culture of peace with the great confidence in the future of peace, cooperation and development./.
C. VIETNAMESE LAWS AND PEACE
byDr Vu Duc Khien, Member of the NA Standing Committee,
Chairman of the NA Committee for Legal Affairs
Striving for peace, national independence and freedom, and for the people's prosperous and happy life is the great and glorious cause of the Communist Party and Government of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam. Right after the success of the August Revolution (1945), in the Declaration of Independence on September 2, 1945, President Ho Chi Minh solemnly proclaimed to his fellow-countrymen and to the world that "Viet Nam has the right to freedom and independence, and it is now a real free and independent state. The entire people are determined to dedicate all their spirit and strength, their lives and property to the defence of their right to freedom and independence".
The determination to fight against oppression and exploitation for a peaceful, prosperous, free and happy life of the people has become a refined tradition in the Vietnamese people's thousand-year long history of national building and defence. That tradition was reflected in the ancestors' teaching which was passed down from generations to generations:
"As sharing the same trellis,
"The fine silk cloth should cover the mirror,
It is certain that those who have good knowledge of Viet Nam's history are all aware of a uniquely famous piece of literature in its history- The Announcement on the Ming's Defeat" by Nguyen Trai. In the XV century, after the victory in prolonged heroic resistance war full of hardships, and after the foreign aggressors had to withdraw, a great and humanistic-imbued idea was reaffirmed:
"Humanity lies in the security of the people,
It is clear that from a long time back, the Vietnamese people had to take up arms to fight foreign aggression just for "the people's safety" and "justice". In late XIX and early XX centuries, the Vietnamese people fought against the French domination just to gain peace, national independence, and the people's prosperity and happiness. It was until August 1945, under the leadership of the Communist Party, that the Vietnamese people seized power after nearly eighty years under foreign domination. The 1946 Constitution, the first one of a Democratic Republic of Viet Nam, confirmed: "with their spirit of unity and endeavour, under a widely democratic regime, Viet Nam is now independent, united, advancing on the glorious road to happiness, keeping good pace with the progressive trend of the world and the aspiration for peace of the humankind".
That is equally the objective of the United Nations as enshrined in its Charter adopted on 24 October 1945. But right after the Vietnamese people seized power, the French colonialists and the US imperialists waged an unjust war that lasted over thirty years in an attempt to re-impose their domination upon these people. But with the Dien Bien Phu victory in 1954 and the Great Spring Victory in 1975, the Vietnamese people once again wrested back their national independence and reunified their country. Despite their complete defeat, the French colonialists and the US imperialists didn't give up their dark manoeuvres against the Vietnamese people; they incited the fear of vengeance and blood-bath among those who collaborated with them, forcing them into a massive migration from the North in 1954 and evacuation out of the country in 1975. In implementing a policy of national unity and harmony, the Government and people of Viet Nam didn't take revenge upon anyone. Even with the French and American prisoners of war and surrendered soldiers who had directly involved in the killing and destruction, the Vietnamese people still treated them humanely and allowed them to go home in accordance with the agreements signed between the Government of Viet Nam, France and the United States.
After the complete liberation of the south and reunification of the country, Viet Nam quickly joined the United Nations in order to work together with the other UN members in the struggle for the protection of their legitimate rights and interests, and for the preservation of word peace. In a statement to the General Assembly on 20 September 1977 (the day Viet Nam joined the United Nations), the representative of the Vietnamese Government reaffirmed: "The people of Viet Nam are determined to fight for the legitimate rights of the human beings, first and foremost the right to national independence, the socio-economic rights of every nation. Viet Nam has no more burning aspiration other than peace and independence".
With a consistent position to resolutely fight for peace and independence of their own and of other peoples in the world, the Government and people of Viet Nam have actively worked towards joining the ASEAN. At a ceremony to accept Viet Nam as the 7th member of this organisation, the representative of the Vietnamese Government solemnly stated: "Viet Nam is persistently carrying out the policy of comprehensive renovation and making efforts to implement a foreign policy of openness, diversity and multilateralism in the spirit of wishing to befriend all countries in world community, striving for peace, independence and development.
It is noteworthy that peace was consitutionalised in the 1980 Constitution promulgated after the national reunification. It stipulated: The Socialist Republic of Viet Nam protects and develops the relations of friendship with its neighbouring countries, solidarity with all countries fighting for national independence and social progress; it pursues a policy of peaceful co-existence with countries of different socio-political systems on the basis of mutual respect for national independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, non-interference into each others internal affairs, equality and mutual benefits; actively supports and contributes to the world peoples struggle for peace, national independence, democracy and socialism. The 1992 Constitution of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam, the one of the renovation period, further qualifies the afore-mentioned content as follows: "The Socialist Republic of Viet Nam pursues a policy of peace, friendship, expanded exchange and cooperation with all countries in the world regardless of their political and social systems, on the basis of mutual respect for independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, non-interference in each others internal affairs, equality and mutual benefits; strengthening solidarity, friendship and cooperation with the socialist countries and neighbouring countries; actively supports and contributes to the common struggle of the world peoples for peace, national independence, democracy and social progress.
Another point that should be emphasised is in all Viet Nams constitutions, the citizens basic rights and duties are specifically stipulated, particularly the rights to freedom and democracy, to equality before the law, to ownership, to physical inviolability, to accommodation, to complaints...These rights have been specified and guaranteed in Viet Nams system of legal documents.
To concretise the provisions on a policy of peace, friendship, expanded exchange and cooperation with all countries in the world as stipulated in the Constitutions, on 20 August 1998, the National Assembly Standing Committee adopted a Decree on the Signing and Implementation of International Treaties in order to strengthen friendship and relations of cooperation between the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam and other countries and peoples in the world, thus contributing to peace and international cooperation, carrying on the tasks of national construction and defence; and at the same time ensuring the serious implementation of its international commitments, and to reinforce state management on international treaties that the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam has signed. The entire Chapter 4 is dedicated to the implementation of international treaties, in which Articles 23 and 24 focus on the compliance and implementation of international treaties: "The Socialist Republic of Viet Nam seriously complies to the treaties it has signed, and equally demands other signatories should do likewise" (Article 23). "The State office that proposes the signing should submit to the Government the plan for implementation of the international treaty to be signed, in which it should detail the implementation process, organisational, managerial and financial measures and other proposals to ensure the implementation of the treaty. Ministries and other concerned branches should discharge their functions to guarantee the implementation of the treaties that the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam has signed" (Article 24).
The 1986 Marriage and Family Law, the 1995 Civil Code, the 1998 Criminal Procedure contain numerous provisions in which the organisation, mutual agreement on dispute settlement to prevent tensions within the communities are encouraged. For instance, Article 11 of the Civil Code stipulates: "In civil relations, reconciliation in conformity with the law is encouraged. No-one is allowed to use or threaten to use force in the settlement of a civil dispute. Particularly the Decree on reconciliation at the grassroots level adopted by the National Assembly Standing Committee on 25 December 1998 clearly reflects the guideline on bringing into play the tradition of unity, mutual assistance in the community, using persuasion to bring the parties to agreement, to voluntarily settle their disputes and differences in order to preserve the unity among the people, to prevent the violation of the law, to maintain social order and safety. Facts show that these legal documents on reconciliation have made positive contributions to fostering relations of friendship, unity and mutual assistance within the population in different regions of the country.
In reference to Viet Nams laws and peace, it would be lop-sided if mention is not made of the Criminal Code with provisions of strong deterrence to those who wont respect the civilised social order, the legitimate rights and interests of others. Two fundamental and progressive principles of the Code are:
Crimes and punishments should be stipulated in the Criminal Code (Article 1 of the 1985 Criminal Code). That means any violation of the law which is not specified as a crime in the Code wont constitute a crime. This principle prevents the abuse by the legal officers in tracking down the citizens criminal responsibility, thus making important contributions to the protection of their free and democratic rights.
No-one should be considered guilty and punished without an effective verdict of the Court (article 10, the 1989 Criminal Code). This principle implies that in Viet Nam, only the court has the right to decide whether a citizen is guilty or not guilty, and that in the process of investigation and trial, the citizens legitimate rights and interests should be respected; forced admission under whatever forms is prohibited.
It is clear that Viet Nams Criminal Law is not only instrumental in punishing the criminals, but whats more important, it is to protect the State interests, and the citizens legitimate rights and interests as well. This objective is contained in numerous legal regulations of Viet Nams Criminal Law. For instance, on punishment, Article 20 of the Criminal Code confirms: "Punishment is not only for the sake of punishment, but helps to re-educate the criminal to become a useful and law-abiding person in the society, and to prevent him/her from committing new crimes. It is also aimed at educating others to respect law, prevent and fight against crimes". Article 21 of the Criminal Code details the forms of punishment:
Half of the above-mentioned forms are not physical punishment. Further studies will reveal that Reprimand, Fine and Education are included in most of the articles on crimes in the Criminal Code. It shows the humanist nature of Viet Nams law. After the Review of 14 year implementation of the Criminal Code (1985-1995) and 10 year implementation of the Criminal Procedure (1989-1999), the National Assembly is now deliberating on their modification in the direction of expanding the application of reprimand, fine and education while lightening the punishment for some crimes and limit the number of crimes that deserve death sentence. But for the crimes against others life, health, dignity and pride, and other democratic rights of the citizen are still severely punished. And equally, in the Modified Criminal Code, the crime against peace, waging wars of aggression (article 277), the crime against humanity (article 278), the war crime (279) and the recruitment of mercenaries and serving as mercenaries (article 280) deserve the highest punishment- death sentence as the State of Viet Nam considers that they are extremely dangerous crimes.
From what was presented above, we can confirm that peace is boldly reflected in Viet Nams legal system. Safeguarding peace, fostering relations of friendship and cooperation among peoples, protection of and respect for freedom, democracy, equality, the right to life and to aspire for happiness is the consistent guideline and policy of the Communist Party and the State of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam./.
Ho Chi Minh, Collected Works, Volume 4. The National Political Publishing House, 1995, p.4 1946 Constitution of the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam.
D. PRESIDENT HO CHI MINH - GLORIFIED SYMBOLE OF THE CULTURE OF PEACE
Professor Song Thanh, Director of Ho Chi Minh Institute,
President Ho Chi Minh was venerated by UNESCO as a National Hero and an Outstanding Man of Culture. A Culture of Peace is among his contributions to the humankind's treasure. This has long been realized and recognized all over the world. In February 1958, the late Prime Minister of India J. Nehru said: "The world today is going through a crisis, a psychological one. What's needed now is a peaceful, friendly and fraternal approach. Dr. Ho represents that approach" 1.
Peace is an earnest aspiration of the entire humankind. Those who suffered most from the losses in the war would be most longing for peace.
In their history of national construction and defense, the Vietnamese people had continuously faced powerful aggressors coming from different continents. The Vietnamese people's glorious triumphs in their history of fighting foreign aggressions not only reflected the force of patriotism, the undauntedness for independence and freedom, but the people's tradition of humanity, tolerance and earnest will for peace as well.
In the war of resistance against the Sung aggressors, when the enemy was in a desperately cornered position, it was Ly Thuong Kiet who stood for a "cease-fire negotiation", providing a way-out for the enemy so as to end the war to "save more sacrifices for our soldiers while still preserving the ancestors' cause".
By the same token, when the Ming aggressors were "so desperate that they took off their cuirasses to surrender", Le Loi and Nguyen Trai also "spared their lives", providing them with "hundreds of boats, thousands of horses" to go home. As for us, what's important was the "safety of our soldiers and people". It was a gesture of clemency and humanity that was unique and unprecedented, aimed at fostering a "long-lasting peace".
It was told in our folklore treasure of the talented and humanistic hero Thach Sanh who didn't drive the enemies back with the mere force of arms, but with a musical instrument trumping of peace, and when they accepted to withdraw, he fed them full with his little magic cooking vessel.
President Ho Chi Minh inherited that age-long tradition of tolerance, friendship and humanity, and developed it to a new level to become the culture of peace in a new age.
Symbol of Viet Nam's Will for Peace
President Ho Chi Minh started his political cause with a gesture of peace: he presented the 8-point petition to the 1919 Versailles Peace Conference, demanding the right to minimum freedom and democracy for the Vietnamese people. The Petition, modest in content as well as in form didn't catch the eyes of the imperialist powers. From that experience, he came to the conclusion that "to be emancipated, the peoples should only rely upon themselves, upon their own strength". After finding out the authentic way for national salvation and liberation, he returned home to "go into the masses, awakening them, organizing them, uniting them, training them and leading them in the struggle for freedom and independence".
President Ho Chi Minh once wrote: "The colonialist regime is, on its own account, violence of the strong against the weak". Therefore, "in the struggle full of hardships against the enemies of the class and the nation, it is necessary to resort to revolutionary violence against reactionary violence, to seize power and to defend the new regime".
But of the two solutions, i.e. revolutionary and reactionary ones, Ho Chi Minh always set as priority to follow the way of peace, negotiation and dialogues with sincerity and understanding.
Before leading our people to stand up in a general uprising to seize power, in the context of the then balance of power, Ho Chi Minh had twice presented the 5-point proposal to the French government through J. Saintenie, head of the French intelligence office (i.e. M 5) in Kon Ming, China: one in July 1945 and the other on 18 August 1945, just one day before the insurrection in Hanoi. In his proposal, Ho Chi Minh accepted a universal election to select a parliament headed by a Frenchman. After five or ten years at the latest, France should return complete independence to Viet Nam together with its natural resources. France would be justly compensated for and would enjoy economic privileges...
J. Saintenie received the message, passed it on to France, but Paris kept silent. Being insensible, De Gaul Government had missed an opportunity to respond to a proposal which J. Saintenie later described as "rather modest and completely acceptable".
With sufficient political and armed force and seizing the right opportunity, Ho Chi Minh led the Vietnamese people to launch the great successful August Revolution. As taking place in a very short duration, with least bloodshed, it could be called a peaceful revolution.
On September 2, 1945, on Ba Dinh Square, Ho Chi Minh read the Declaration of Independence, announcing the birth of the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam. He wrote in the opening line of the Declaration: "men were all born to be equal. Creator endowed them with inviolable rights, including the right to life, to freedom and to aspire for happiness". That was also the pronouncement of peace of our nation in a new age, because the first fundamental right of a human being and a people is the right to life while war means destruction and violation of that sacred right.
But only three weeks after Viet Nam's announcement of independence, under the protection of the British army, the French returned with their powerful military forces to enslave our people once again. In the course of the French-Vietnamese conflict, Ho chi Minh always chose the peaceful solution: ready to accept compromises and concessions only to avoid a war that would bring so much sufferings to both peoples.
In October 1945, in a letter addressing the Frenchmen in Indochina, he wrote: "Too much of humankind's blood had been shed. Peace, a genuine peace relied on equability and democratic ideals should replace war. Freedom, equality and fraternity should be realized in all countries without any discrimination against race and color". Therefore he chose and persistently followed the peaceful solution by signing with the French the March 6th, 1946 Agreement in exchange for the withdrawal of the Chiang forces from Viet Nam. With a constructive attitude and regardless of the treacherousness and danger, he went even to the French Capital to seek peace. Unfortunately that good-will was not reciprocated. The Fonteinebleau Conference broke down. He then tried to open a post-Fonteinebleau meeting, leading to the signing of the September 14th, 1946 Modus Vivandus which included only unqualified principles as he wanted to rely on it to further negotiations early in the following year.
When the French stepped up provocation, pushing tensions to the extreme, Ho Chi Minh still stated on 13 December 1946: "My people and I earnestly want peace. We don't want war... We want to avoid this war at all costs... But if they force it on us, then we'll have to resist. We know without any doubt what's awaiting us... Anyhow, I wish we won't have to resort to that kind of solution".
Until the time when our people were forced to take up arms, he wouldn't drop the banner of peace, but continued to write letters, sending appeals to the French Government, Parliament and people, calling them to stop the war and restore peace. It was J. Saintenie who "face to face with Ho Chi Minh" had to admit: "If Ho could have reached his objective without having firing a shot or any bloodshed, he would surely have been the happiest man in the world".
Only in the wake of their continuous military defeats, particularly those in Dien Bien Phu, and facing numerous difficulties in all fields were the war-mongers in the French political circle forced to sit down to negotiations in Geneva. As longing for peace, Viet Nam accepted a compromise which didn't reflect the balance of power in the battle field.
The French withdrew, and the Americans jumped in. Arrogant of their "unimaginable" military strength, they thought they would be able to hammer down the Vietnamese people's will for peace in independence and freedom. But the Americans had to eventually spend twice as much time as the French did, with colossal waste in terms of human life and money to be able to come to a bitter realization that weapons and technology didn't win over the human will. It was when they were bogged down in Viet Nam, President Ho chi Minh with the goodwill of peace stated: Viet Nam was ready to unroll the red carpet for the GI's to go home if the United States pledged to respect Viet Nam's independence, unification, sovereignty and territorial integrity.
In short, President Ho Chi Minh and the Vietnamese people earnestly longed for peace, not peace at any price but peace in conformity with justice and democracy; a peace based on independence and freedom as Ho Chi Minh had stated: "Genuine peace could never be separated from freedom and real independence of a nation".
Embodiment for Viet Nam's Spirit of Tolerance and Humanitarianism
Tolerance and humanitarianism means a respectful attitude towards and a generous view of others' different values (relative to race, religion, faith, political views, philosophy... and qualities of each individual...). In other words, cultural tolerance is an attitude towards the harmony in differences so as to co-exist and develop in peace. As the United Nations Secretary General Jaimes Peres Des Cuijars once said: "We have little time left on this world. We therefore should live together in peace". So it is possible to consider tolerance as the cultural foundation of peace.
President Ho Chi Minh confirmed: "Our people are rich in sympathy and humanity". It was he who inherited and developed Viet Nam's spirit of tolerance to new qualities and height to become the Ho Chi Minh spirit of tolerance and humanitarianism.
The Ho Chi Minh Tolerance
has combined his superior conscience with those of the nation and the era to reach the harmony between the individual, the nation and the humankind. In Ho chi Minh, peace and independence for his own people mean peace and independence for all peoples; national liberation must lead to the liberation of the entire human society and humankind. That is the highest and most universal values of tolerance.
The Ho Chi Minh Tolerance
has combined humanity with wisdom; that is between hearty feelings and clear-reasoning, thus overcoming the shortcomings and limitations of the traditional tolerance (e.g. Taoist class strata, submissiveness of Buddhist tolerance...).
The Ho Chi Minh Tolerance
relies on humanity, but it is a ingenuous and principled humanity with justice as its foundation, hence the determination to oppose those acts and actors that violate the interests of the community, trample upon justice, democracy, the people's right to life, to freedom and to aspire for happiness.
The Ho Chi Minh Tolerance
means a respectful attitude towards all cultural values of the humankind, an acceptance of equitable exchange and dialogue aimed at harmony and development.
Cultural discrimination is alien to Ho Chi Minh. In the war of resistance against the French, he still loved and praised the French culture. In the war against the Americans, he still extolled their tradition of independence and freedom. He himself was the crystallized quintessence of the humankind's culture, the East and West Culture.
In a world of cultural symbiosis, where there is the exchange between the common and the individual, between the similarity and the difference, the Ho Chi Minh tolerance is the acceptance of dialogues on values, the search for the common and the humanity. Ho Chi Minh said: "Though peoles are different in their customs, they are similar in one thing: the love for the good and the hatred for the evil".
Being a practical diplomat, a master of negotiations, Ho Chi Minh knew how to find the common denominator for all negotiations. He told the French: "The Vietnamese and the French all believe in freedom, fraternity and independence"."Confucious and Western philosophies both extol an ethical principle: Don't force upon others what you don't want. You love France and want it to be independent... Then we should be allowed to love our country and want it to be independent as well!...What you consider your ideal should be ours also". That is why his argument was so convincing.
As for religions, Ho Chi Minh honestly respected the religious people's faith, praised the noble life, ethical and humanitarian values of their founders; he never criticized or denied them, but instead skillfully channeled them into the objective of national liberation and people's aspiration for happiness.
As for the people, he urged them to unite themselves. "A hand has five long and short fingers... Among millions of people, there should be some different ones. For those misled fellow-countrymen, we should convert them with affections". Even with those on the opposition, Ho Chi Minh showed an attitude of tolerance and unique generosity when they landed in desperate circumstances or repented their crimes.
Viet Nam has a multi-ethnic culture. Having a profound knowledge of and a respectful attitude towards the different cultural features of the brotherly ethnic groups, President Ho Chi Minh succeeded in combining them into the diversity, richness and attraction of Viet Nam's culture.
In short, the Ho Chi Minh cultural tolerance is an integrated whole of the soul, the virtue and the wisdom, fostered on a high-level culture, successfully combining feelings with wisdom, cognizance with actions, affection with struggle, which indicates a new development of Viet Nam cultural tolerance.
In today's world, the cold war is over, but the humankind is still living in a "hot peace". Bloody wars, ethnic and religious conflicts are taking place elsewhere. Lacking of a cultural tolerance, they consider themselves unequaled, leading to prejudice and discrimination against anything that is not theirs! In the same vein, some powerful forces are trying to abuse the human "universal values" to impose upon other peoples those alien to their cultural traditions. Unable to convince them, they are ready to resort to the force of arms in an attempt to bring them to submission. International terrorism is threatening the right to life, to happiness in peace, freedom, independence in line with one's ideals and cultural traditions.
Against this backdrop, education, fostering and developing the spirit of tolerance become an urgent requirement, and the example set by Ho Chi Minh is referred to as a typical value characterizing the XXI culture- the Culture of Peace.
Herald of Peace and Friendship among Peoples
As early as the 1920's, when he was still traveling around to seek ways for national salvation, Nguyen Ai Quoc-Ho Chi Minh lived, worked and contacted people and politicians from big powers like the United States of America, Great Britain, France, Russia, Germany, Italy... to countries and peoples under colonialism in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Nguyen Ai Quoc was therefore considered as the one who laid the founding stone for the friendship between the Vietnamese and other world peoples.
The peoples throughout the world were well aware of his sixty-odd years as an activist. He fought not only for independence and freedom of his own people, but for the happiness and dignity of other oppressed peoples as well. Nguyen Ai Quoc's Indictment of Colonialism went far with its repercussion, helping to awaken the oppressed peoples around the world to stand up and fight for their own emancipation.
Nguyen Ai Quoc was the first one from a colony to take part in the founding of the proletarian party in a "mother country" and to contribute to the formulation of correct guidelines for the French Communist Party vis-a-vis colonial issues.
In 1921, together with others from different colonies living in France, he founded the Colonies' Union and Le Paria as its newspaper (1922).
Since mid-1923, Nguyen Ai Quoc worked in Moscow, making active contributions to the activities by the Communist International and its mass organizations, i.e. the International Peasants' Union, the International Youth Union, the International Workers' Red Union...
At the end of 1924, Nguyen Ai Quoc returned to Kwangchou, China, jointly founding the Oppressed Peoples' Union (1925). In his capacity as member of the Oriental Branch and member of the Presidium of the International Peasants' Union, he made worthy contributions to the revolutionary cause of the Chinese people and other peoples in Southeast Asia.
After the Vietnamese people under his leadership wrested back their independence, President Ho Chi Minh consistently taught them how to combine profound patriotism with pure internationalism, national strength with that of the time to form in practice a Front of World Peoples in support of the Vietnamese people against foreign aggression, thus contributing to the final and complete victory in their struggle for national independence and reunification.
President Ho Chi Minh headed many visits of friendship to the brotherly socialist countries, to neighboring Southeast Asian countries as India, Burma and Indonesia... Wherever he went, he expressed the heart-felt feelings of the Vietnamese people and their earnest aspiration for a life in peace, independence, democracy and prosperity, for "having friendly relations with all peace-loving peoples throughout the world". Wherever he went, he was most warmly welcome as the herald of peace and friendship.
Ho Chi Minh had dedicated all his life to the ideals of fraternity, solidarity, peace and friendship among peoples. He became the symbol of pure internationalism:
"All oceans belong to the same family,
Ho Chi Minh was venerated by UNESCO as an "Outstanding Man of Culture" because his ideals embody the peoples' wish to reaffirm their national identity and symbolize the aspiration to promote mutual understanding. It can as well be said that Ho Chi Minh is the Glorified Symbol of the Culture of Peace, the Culture of the XXI Century./.
1. Welcoming speech on Feb. 7, 1958. Quoted from Nhan Dan Newspaper on 11 Nov. 1989.
E. VIETNAMESE WOMEN AND PEACE
by Mrs Dao Thi Nhien, Member of the Presidium of the Viet Nam Womens Union
To live in peace is everyone's wish. Talking of peace would bring back memories of war's brutalities. And women would come into the picture whenever peace is mentioned as the two have close links. Women play a vanguard role in Peace Movement; they are the activists in the struggle for the protection of peace. And by the same token, women's advancement is only assured when they enjoy a life in peace. Furthermore, women and peace, and social progresses are closely related in a sense that social progresses are made on the foundation of peace. And social progresses should be considered along with women's advancement. So it can be said that Women's Advancement is the Measurement of Social Progresses. This relationship is recognized in paragraphs 18 and 28 of the Fourth World Summit on Women in Beijing, which read to the effect that peace for all communities, nations, regions and the world could be achieved and is closely related with women's advancement, as the women constitute the fundamental force for leadership, to settle conflicts and promote long-lasting peace at all levels. Participants in the Summit are determined to take positive steps to ensure peace and women's advancement, to recognize women's vanguard role in Peace Movement.
Like their counterparts in other countries the world over, the women of Viet Nam always long for peace, equality, progress and development. Furthermore, as being born and growing up in a country with continuous wars, with eleven centuries against aggressions and domination by the northern feudal dynasties, and one century against aggression and domination by the European colonialists, Asian militarists and American imperialists, the women of Viet Nam fully understand what it is like to live under foreign domination, to suffer numerous sacrifices in the wars and to live in peace and national independence.
Peace-loving Tradition of the Vietnamese Women as shown in the struggles against foreign aggression for national liberation and for life in peace, independence, freedom, equality, prosperity and happiness
The Vietnamese women were the vanguard force in the uprisings and insurrections against the 11 centuries-long brutal domination by the northern feudal dynasties for national liberation and for life in peace, prosperity and happiness
In 221 BC, the people of Au Lac (now Viet Nam) were leading a peaceful life when the Northern Qin dynasty started attacking their country. By 179 BC under the Zhao Dynasty, they completed their invasion of Au Lac. This was a turning point in the history of this country as the free people became slaves of the foreign aggressors. The Northern invaders set up their ruthless domination, especially when the Han Dynasty defeated the Zhao Dynasty in 111 BC and continued to dominate our country. The people were brutally exploited, forcibly going up into the jungle or down to the deep sea to fetch ivory, hippo's horns or pearls for the aggressors. The latter resorted to cultural assimilation by abolishing all customs and laws of the Vietnamese people, forcing them to follow the way of northern life style. The women were despised, being men's slaves. They were deprived of the right to be respected. They had only the right to be subservient, not to be heard. Under foreign domination, the Vietnamese women's dignity was trampled underfoot. Freedom, democracy were alien to them while abject poverty was their companion. They wondered what they should do to preserve their language, their customs, their life style? What they should do to preserve their national identity? to live in peace without violence and oppression? and to be equal to men? They came to the conclusion that losing one's country meant losing all and when one's country was lost, one's family was safe no more. That was why in the course of eleven centuries, the women of Viet Nam took the initiative to organize and lead many nation-wide uprisings and insurrections against the northern aggressors for national liberation and freedom.
The first uprising of this kind was in 40 AD (the Year of the Mouse). The two sisters, Trung Trac and Trung Nhi led patriotic forces in a determination to defeat the foreign invaders. Within a very short time, the uprising was successful throughout the country, setting up a landmark in the history of the Vietnamese people. How come a people labeled by the northern feudal as the "barbarians" could bring down a 200 year-long domination by a powerful dynasty of the time? How come the women looked down by the society could lead the insurgents with 30 women generals in an uprising which spread out across 65 districts? The answer is it was the burning aspiration by the Vietnamese people, particularly women, to live in peace, independence, freedom and happiness. That was the tradition of peace, affections, unity, respect and sharing which lasted for thousands of years in this country.
To live in peace, equality and social progress, the Vietnamese women accepted sacrifices in a long war of resistance against the aggressions by the European colonialists, Asian militarists and American imperialists from mid-19 to the later end of the 20 century.
In this span of time, continuous aggressions by the French colonialists, Japanese militarists, Chiang Kei Sheik Nationalists and American imperialists caused untold sufferings to the people of this country. It can be said after Nguyen Trai that the bamboo on Truong Son Range are not enough to record their crimes, and the water from the Red and Mekong rivers are not enough to wash away the blood stains from their hands. The Vietnamese people and women stood up to face these powerful aggressors. They accepted sacrifices just to wrest back national independence and freedom for a life in peace, prosperity and happiness.
In the war of resistance against the French colonialists, in Northern part of Viet Nam alone, by 1952 there had been 840,000 militiawomen of whom 60,000 were killed in action. In the Southern part of Viet Nam, by 1950 there had been 140,000 militiawomen , of whom 20,000 were killed in action. In the two wars of resistance against the French colonialists and American imperialists, out of 138,000 volunteers, there were 70,000 women of whom 2,000 were killed in action, tens of thousands of others wounded or fell victims to Agent Orange. Out of 13 heroes of the Volunteers Force, 10 women were awarded post-humously. Of the three living heroes, 2 are women. Hundreds of thousands of women were imprisoned, 36,000 women for the period from 1955 to 1965 alone. They were subject to all kinds of barbarous torture, thousands of them being tortured to death or killed. What was the strength that helped them stand these trials? Is it again their aspiration for national independence, freedom, peace and happiness? The answer is yes. Their body was in prison, but their mind was outside with their people. Many women while in prison embroidered handkerchiefs with pairs of pigeons (symbol of peace) and sent them outside to tell their comrades that for a life in peace, independence, freedom, the women of Viet Nam were ready to face all kinds of torture by the enemy, to accept sufferings and sacrifices.
Also in the course of the two wars mentioned above, 40,556 women were awarded the "Viet Nam's Mother Hero" title, amongst them being Mother Nguyen Thi Thu of Dien Thang village, Dien Ban District, Quang Nam Province, who had 11 family members (9 sons, one son-in-law and one grandson) died for the national cause. Many other mothers had from three to eight family members killed in action, and some of the mothers sacrificed themselves for the revolution.
The Women of Viet Nam and the Culture of Peace
From the concept of a Culture of Peace by UNESCO, I think of those pre-requisites for the building of a Culture of Peace:
There have been enough conditions to build a Culture of Peace in Viet Nam since 1975. But as a poor country, savaged by the wars, it is not easy to do it overnight. However, it can be said that with their tradition of peace and with special attention by the Party and the Government, even in the war time, some contents of a Culture of Peace had become great concerns of the Vietnamese people and women. The women of Viet Nam play an important role in the preservation and bringing into full play the national identity in a culture of peace. This has been testified in the course of a thousand years of foreign domination. The Vietnamese were resistant to the northern aggressors' attempt of cultural assimilation. The Vietnamese women had brought up their future generations along the authentic Vietnamese tradition to preserve their own language, customs, life style, and above all, their cultural identity.
In reference to the Vietnamese women, mention should be made of the Vietnamese Women's Union (VNWU), as it plays a role in the process of building a culture of peace in Viet Nam.
Since 1930, in each historical period, the VNWU has mobilized and brought into full play the strength of all women's strata in nation-wide revolutionary movements and actions, thus making worthy contributions to the struggle for national independence and reunification, for national reconstruction and defense of national sovereignty, and for the building of a culture of peace in Viet Nam.
At present, the VNWU indulges itself in numerous activities aimed at achieving the objectives set forth by the 8th National Congress of Women. That is to unite and mobilize all women to bring into full play their potentials, creativeness and good virtues in order to improve the material as well as spiritual life, to upgrade their knowledge, protect the equality between men and women, thus contributing to national industrialization and modernization, to the building and defense of the country. It is also to steadily develop the contingent of women cadres in the fields of state and social management, to build up a strong army of the VNWU's officials equal to the task of representing the legal interests of the Vietnamese women.
These objectives have been concretized in 5 plans of action and 2 movements dealing with women's issues in the renovation process. One of the issues is poverty and hunger reduction, job creation to generate incomes, because only when hunger is erased and poverty alleviated can equality, development and peace be achieved.
For over ten years of comprehensive renovation, the VNWU has made great contributions to hunger and poverty reduction, job creation to generate incomes for women. Hunger and poverty percentage is reduced nation-wide, thus contributing to social equality and development. Just take as an example the results of the "Women's Mutual Assistance to Develop Household Economies" Movement launched in 26 provinces in April 1999.
women from well-off families provided 15,974 women from poor households with loans without interest worth of 3,728,413,000 dongs and 704 ounces of gold as seeding fund, 14,393 animals, 154,648 kilograms of rice, 35,661 work-days, 109,947 kilograms of fertilizers, 4,864 kilograms of subsidiary food, 40,661 kilograms of animals' food, etc...
In the pre-harvest time, there is food shortage and hunger in many households. But in the sharing spirit, the women assisted these households. As in the reports from 8 provinces, in April 1999, 4,567 women were assisted with 13,989,000 dongs and 21,029 kilograms of rice.
From the objectives set forth by the 8th National Congress of Women and the results of the 5 plans of action and 2 Movements, it can be firmly said that the VNWU and the women of Viet Nam have made significant contributions to the building of a culture of peace in Viet Nam and in the world.
Viet Nam is still a poor country, with per capita GDP averaging at 220 US dollars per year. But we can say that the Vietnamese people have build for themselves a traditional culture of peace along the pattern of "honesty even when you are hungry", "the leaves protecting the broken ones" and as in the teaching that has been passed down from generations to generations:
"As sharing the same trellis,
The women of Viet Nam have made important contributions not only to the culture of peace in this country, but to that of the humankind as well. Since 1946, the VNWU has joined the International Union of Democratic Women, and then a number of other regional and international women's organizations that follow the objectives of Peace, Equality and Development.
The women of Viet Nam earnestly long for peace and wish to live in independence, freedom and happiness. They have participated in healing the war wounds, rebuilding the country, settling the differences within communities, reconciliation and prevention of violence. In the process of renovation, they are active participants in initiating friendship and cooperation with people and women of the international community in their endeavor for peace, independence and development, for the happiness of women and children.
The Culture of Peace is one with rich and interesting content. I sincerely believe that all nations in this world wish to have it. But it is not easy to have the culture of peace worldwide because the war and aggression are still going on elsewhere, violence being present in the society and even in the family, and there are still unequality, hunger and poverty...
But I am confident that the decision by the United Nations to launch the Year 2000 as the International Year for a Culture of Peace and to encourage all nations to actively participate in building the culture of peace will be met with sympathy and support as the entire humankind wishes to lead a life in Peace, Equality and Development./.
F. HANOI - A CITY OF THE CULTURE OF PEACE
by Dr Luu Minh Tri, Vice Chairman, Hanoi People's Committee
It is my great pleasure on behalf of the Hanoi People's Committee to attend this National Workshop on a Culture of Peace organised by the Viet Nam National Commission for UNESCO in coordination with the Capital City of Hanoi.
I am very pleased to learn of the decision by the UNGeneral Assembly to launch the year 2000 as the International Year for a Culture of Peace. And our gathering here today is just another virtual activity in response to that decision.
This is an interesting coincidence: the Year 2000 is also when we commemorate the 990th birthday of the Capital City of Hanoi. This means a lot to us as it conforms with Viet Nam's national tradition of love and aspiration for peace. At this moment, Hanoi is included in the list of cities standing for "UNESCO's Prize- the City of Peace".
We are living in the last years of the XX century, at the threshold of the next one. The year 2000 will be an important landmark for the next millennium. The launching of the year 2000 as the International Year for a Culture of Peace assumes further significance as it will guide the humankind's views and actions for noble objectives, for the burning aspiration of the entire progressive population. That is culture. And that is peace.
In the course of their long history, the Vietnamese people as well as the Hanoians have consistently striven, diligently worked and aspired for peace so as to be able to build a prosperous nation, a happy life; but at the same time they have had to face natural disasters and foreign aggressions. To defend their national independence and territorial integrity, to ensure a happy life and communal solidarity, they have had to struggle against the former, and to take up arms to fight against the latter.
Legend has it that it was here on the water of the former Blue-water Lake (now Sword-returned Lake), after defeating foreign aggressors, King Le Thai To had himself returned the magic sword to the Golden Turtle dwelling in the Lake in the aspiration for peace and national stability.
Similar stories could be heard anywhere around Thang Long-Ha Noi. It serves as a vivid testimony to Viet Nam's age-old culture reeked of humanitarianism. Despite the harshness of time, the ruthless destruction of wars, the historical and cultural heritage could be found in every inch of Hanoi soil. Here stand Dai Nghien (the Inkwell Stand) and Thap But (the Pen Tower) reflecting on the lake and reaching up to write into the sky. There looks magnificent Van Mieu-Quoc Tu Giam (the Literature Temple and first National University) that trained the talents for the nation, which depicts Viet Nam's tradition of morality of respect for education, for teachers, upholding national culture full of humanitarianism. Chua Mot Cot (the One-Pillar Pagoda) designed after the symbol of a lotus reaching high from the mud reflects the qualities of the Vietnamese people. Only these few examples suffice to show the uniqueness of the culture of Viet Nam, and of Hanoi.
If today's discussion is on a Culture of Peace as all the values, attitudes and conducts which show the respect for life, for human beings and their personalities, for human rights; the rejection of violence under whatever forms; the faithfulness to the principles of freedom, justice, solidarity, tolerance and mutual understanding among peoples, groups of people and individuals, then I wish also to reaffirm that there is a Culture of Peace deep down in the qualities and the soul of the Vietnamese people, and of the Hanoians.
The reason for Ly Thai To's decision to move the capital in 1010 was "to choose a central location for the settlement of coming generations, which conforms to the Almighty above and to the people's wishes down under..." It was the King who saw here "...a convenient terrain with rivers in front, mountains at the back; the land is large and flat; the high land will not be flooded, ensuring prosperity..." The King's love for the people is a testimony to the respect for life, for the human beings and their personalities.
Nguyen Trai (Uc Trai) was born in 1389 in the Kingdom City of Thang Long. He was a national hero, national as well as world "l'homme de culture". He embodied the soul and the qualities of the Viet Nam and of Hanoi. He and Le Loi glorified over the defeat of the Ming aggressors. He was also the man who wrote the famous Announcement on the Ming's Defeat" which was considered as the second Declamation of National Independence (the first being a poem called "the Rivers and Mountains of the Southern Nation" by Ly Thuong Kiet). He started the Announcement by saying "Humanity lies in the security of the people; so the first thing to do is to get rid of tyranny and violence". He had a profound hatred for criminal acts, rejected violence and stood for "Justice over tyranny; humanity over violence". When the aggressors were defeated, he granted clemency for them by sparing their lives. He said: "We should think of the soldiers and people first. They deserve it after the war". That is humanitarianism, the love for the people, the wish for friendship and tolerance.
The Culture of Peace has been crystalised and perpetuated in President Ho chi Minh who symbolises the personality of and the love by the Vietnamese people for freedom, peace and independence. It is not mere coincidence that when recognised Ho Chi Minh as "l'homme de culture" of the world, UNESCO reaffirmed: "President Ho Chi Minh embodies the Vietnamese people's thousand-year-long cultural traditions" and "His ideals symbolise the aspiration of the peoples for the confirmation of their own cultures".
President Ho Chi Minh's love for freedom, peace and national independence is an advance of culture in the modern direction, equally contributing to the reform of world culture for the working people's interests. Only those who have a profound knowledge of the qualities of the Vietnamese people and Viet Nam's Culture of Peace would be able to understand why President Ho Chi Minh started the Declaration of Independence by reciting the content of the American 1776 Declaration of Independence and the French 1791 Declaration of Human and Civil Rights. He announced to his own fellow countrymen and to the world that "Men were all born to be equal. The Creator invested in them inviolable rights, including the right to life, to freedom and to aspire for happiness". He further reaffirmed: "Men were born free and equal in rights". It is not mere coincidence that there was similarity between Nguyen Trai and Ho Chi Minh, who lived five centuries apart. As for the defeated enemy, Nguyen Trai stood for "humanitarianism and friendships" while President Ho Chi Minh was for "clemency and humanity".
It can be said that the ideas of the Culture of Peace have permeated into the Vietnamese people's minds. It embeds in all thoughts, feelings, the way of thinking, the working pattern... and even in simplistic yet refined hobbies of the Vietnamese people, and of the Hanoians.
The people of Hanoi and its neighborhood have an age-old custom of pigeons competitions. The birds are well known for their faithfulness to men, being called "nghia dieu" (faithful birds) by the Vietnamese. The humankind considers them as a symbol of peace. The birds are characterised by their team spirit. They live in couples, flying in flocks around the leader, manifesting their team spirit and fidelity. Our ancestors had created and maintained this hobby, just to uphold the collectiveness, unity, peacefulness, faithfulness and affections... and also to manifest the Vietnamese people's wishes and earnest aspiration for peace.
With these few comments and examples, we wish to testify to the high and profound development of a Culture of Peace in the souls and qualities of the Vietnamese people and of the Hanoians.
I wish to take the liberty to announce to you distinguished guests and participants that only one day after this Workshop, Hanoi will organise the traditional pigeons competition around Ngoc Son Temple on Hoan Kiem Lake. And during the competition, a Message of Peace from Hanoi, May 1999 will be announced. It is a specific and actual event to welcome the success of this Workshop. I wish to avail myself of this opportunity to invite you all to the competition to mingle with the Hanoians in their cultural festival of peace.
Our country, our Capital City have been through the ups and downs of history, making numerous great sacrifices in the wars. That is why we perfectly understand the sacred values of Peace and are determined to defend and to preserve peace. The people of Viet Nam and of Hanoi have considered the building and development of a Culture of Peace as a noble and sacred objective. The people of Hanoi therefore condemn NATO's military attacks against Yugoslavia. We wish that peace will soon be restored there.
Hanoi, the Capital City of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam should be a city with a developed Culture of Peace. It should be a City of Peace.
We are confident that our future generations will benefit from the fruits of the Culture of Peace which we are today persistently striving for.
Thank you very much for your kind attention.
I wish you the best of health.
May the building and development of the Culture of Peace be successful!
May peace come to the entire humankind!
G. VIETNAMESE ASPIRATION FOR PEACE IN FOLKLORE
by Prof Dr To Ngoc Thanh, Secretary General,
Peace is the permanent wishes of Vietnamese peoples in its millenium history. These wishes are expressed as a fundamental content covering all folkloric expresions of all Vietnamese ethnicities. It also is the main cultural mentality regulating the behavours of the people in their relationship with nature,with society and with each individual. But this is a large topic which can not to present adequately in a short time. So we will present here only some typical cases.
1. Relationship between Man and Nature
In the past, the Vietnamese people did not have the concept of "environment" as we have nowadays. For them, apart from the human world there are other worlds. These worlds related to one another closely, particularly, impact and influence well or badly on the human world, because their members also souls and impactive capacities. Viet people-the major ethnicity in Viet Nam-in the past believed that the cosmos was divided into four worlds which combined with one another to become the cosmic entity. They called it "
Tø phñ C«ng §ång" - "Four components worlds of cosmic entity".
Th­îng giíi" means the worlds located on the SKY. This world absolutely has nothing in common with the concept of "Paradise or Nirvada" of religions. It is the world where there occur natural phenomena such as rain, wind, thunder, lightning, sun and natural calamities as drought, solar and lunar eclipses, flood, etc... Mrs. SKY as the village's chief, controls Gods of wind, rain, thunder, bolt and orders to punish the human world with natural calamities. The Viet people imagines the Gods to be orginary people, but with gigantic statures and powerful capacities. The inhabitants of Th­îng Giíi also have sexuality as in the following folk song :
"If Mr. MOON is going to marry Ms. SKY
He has to propose her ritually in August
and hand in marriage in October"
Sometimes they also regarded as the Viet people's ancestors as in the following folk song :
"We are known everywhere
As we are Mr. Thunder's children, Mrs. Thunder bolt's grandchildren"
In the relationshipwith humans, apart from the function of providing natural ecological conditions for plants, animals and humans to grow up, th­îng giíi - the Sky world - also plays the role of supervising personalities and honest way of living of the human society. Everybody, especially kings, lords and chiefs of community, has to live a moral life, observe standards in personality of the society. Otherwise they will be "punished by Mrs. Sky with flood, drought, crop failure or epidemic diseases". Although the Sky worlds is believed to be true it has no own certain form.
The opposite the Sky world is the Earth in the opposition between Male (Sky) and Dermale (Earth) the combination of which guarantees the prosperity of human and nature forever. Due to diferent characteristics, the Earth is divided into three worlds. They connect closeky in an entity and integrate together in solidarity, respect and lultual understanding, but they are relatively independents of one another. they are the HUMAN WORLD, FOREST AND MOUTAIN WORLD, RIVER AND SEA WORLD OR WATER WORLD, all of them are set up on the Earth and the Human world is considered as the Center of them.
The Human world is in opposition to three orther worlds in SPACE. As for the TIME aspect, the Sky world is permanent while the two other worlds are also entities which change in the stream of time like the Human world. It is the cognition of time that leads the people to the concept of "two halves structure" of the Human world, by that, the first half belonging to the past, includes souls of their ancestors and the dead; and the second half is of the living at present. They are the invisible community of the ancestors and the visible community of the descendants.
The Forest and Moutain world is the territory of the plants, animals and rock. This also is the place where the people's ancestors were born and gathered, from where time by time they moved down to conques planins in process of sea backing since some thousands of years ago.
Being the people dcultivating water, the Vietnamese have both friendly and fear attitute toward water, because it is an important condition in cultivating rice. Out of four factors of rice cultivators' success as water - fertilizer - industry - good rice seeds, water ranks first. But due to being in the monsoon zone, so water has caused flood to people many times. And water also ranks first among four disasters in the Vietnamese's view : water-fire-theft-robbery.
It is interesting that the four worlds are ruled by rour Mother. They are the Sky Mother, Water Mother, Forest Mother and Earth Mother (or Human world's Mother). The nomination of the four Mother expresses the attentive and respectful attitute of Vietnamese people to the important role of the Mother in particular and to the women in general. This beautiful cultural behavour also is expressed in the naming river or moutain. The recent RED river in the North Viet Nam, in the past was named as MOTHER river. The MEKONG name pronounciated by the native language MEKONG and it means "the Mother of property". In Viet Nam, many mountains were named Mother Moutain with mean that it is the Place where the people was born and grow up. The rice is considered as son of Rice Mother. In autum the Vietnamese celebrate the midle- august ceremony during which the people eat fried green- rice considered as MILK OF RICE MOTHER.
Recognizing the environment as living worlds having the same attributes, of human world, the Vietnamese don't allow themselves to become "so called SUBJECT" to exploit and squeeze out the nature. On the contrary, the human world is considered as unseparated component of the dosmic entiry. So, the people have to establish friendly and mutual understanding relationship with the nature.
2. Relationship between Men and Men
Nowadays, there are 54 ethnic groups living in Viet Nam. They are belonging to different linguistic families such as Mon-Khmer, Austrosian, Malayo-Polinesian, Tibeto-Birman, etc... Thus, we can say the Vietnamese culture is multisourcial, multicolor. But it is common cognition expressing in the culture of all Vietnamese ethnic groups that they are descendants of the same ancestors. The Viet people beliefs at the begining of the creation of world the first mother had born a wrap containing one hundred egges and then become one hundred sons. Fifty sons follow the father moving toward the sea and become the ancestor of the recent Viet people. Fifty other ons follow the mother moving to the moutain area and become ancestors of recent minority ethic groups. The Thai - Tay people considered that at the moment of creation of the world Mrs. Sky cultivated a gourd each grain of which becomed the ancestor of one Vietnamese ethic group. The legendary flesh - and - blood relation created a closed and sustainable solidarity among 54 Vietnamese ethnic groups. And it explains why there was not any ethnic war in during millenium history of Viet Nam.
The consciousness of common blood resource also made the base to unit all dwellers of a community, a ethnic group, a descendance, a family in unity. The dwellers of each village share a common titulary genie. Each year, in the springtime, the villagers organize the spring ceremony to ferform various kinds of folkloric activities expressing the merit of the titulary genie.
The closed connection between insiders do not hinder them to express a friendly and mutural understanding relationship with different neighbours. That is why during our milleninum history we never conducted any aggressive war aothough more one time we were forced to carry the resstances against different invaders. Moreover, as the winner, we always delivered to the enemies our good behavour and tolerance.
In brief, some above - said examples show the wish of Vietnamese people for a peaceful life in which man and nature, man and men freindly live together, helping with one another in exsistance and development./.
PEACE EDUCATION IN VIET NAM SCHOOLS
by Prof Dr Vu Ngoc Hai, Vice Minister,
1. Nowadays the issue of peace has hall the more become necessary in the context of great changes of world situation. As UNESCO Director General, Federico Mayor said : "Peace does no more possibly be considered as an agreement between strong persons, as a favour sometimes being granted beneficence to some, lucky country but it is a social state which each citizen could contribute each time". Thus, the cause of peace has to be protected in everyday life at home, in the schools, in working place...
Spinoza has defined "Peace is a doctrine originating from mental force". It's necessary to educate schools pupils to possess "mental force" to help them to have capacity to strive and to exert according to the spirit of understanding, cooperation and peace. The school plays an extremely important role in peace education for school pupils.
Peace education for children is education of the mental co-operation which in its very assence is everyday behavioral manner of children towards all persons, works, events, community, fatherland and even this world. UNESCO has paid special attention to education of Peace for children. Therefore from the year 1995 to now there have been 7 culture of Peace festivals for children at sub-regional level every where in the world. Viet Nam has paid great attention to peace education and has successfully realised it.
2. The Overall Objectives of Peace Education in Viet Nam
3. Peace Education Strategies
4. Peace Education Content
5. Various Ways of Peace Education
5.1. Through teaching - learning of subjects, especially the subjects of Ethics and Citizen education.
5.2. Through extra - curricular activities.