Tuesday, April 28, 2015

40th Anniversary of the fall of Saigon - Chris Hayes MP

40th Anniversary of the fall of Saigon

Phát biểu của Thượng Nghị Sĩ Chris Hayes trước Tượng Đài Chiến Sĩ Úc-Việt trong buổi Đặt vòng hoa tri ân Chiến Sĩ Úc đã hy sinh trong chiến trường Việt Nam, sau khi biểu tình Quốc Hận 30/04 trước Toà đại sứ VC ở Canberra ngày 26 tháng Tư năm 2015.

CHRIS HAYES MP - 40th Anniversary of the fall of Saigon

Sunday 26 April 2015

This April 30 will mark the 40th anniversary since the end of the Vietnam War, the day Saigon tragically fell to Vietnamese communist forces in 1975.

I know that no one here will forget the significance of that day. Not only did you lose homes, family and friends, you lost your country. It was the day Vietnamese lost their freedom and their basic human rights.

Yesterday, our nation paused to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Gallipoli, and to honour the spirit of our ANZACs. It is the day we remember and reflect upon the courage, bravery and the sacrifice of all our Australian soldiers;

Today, we stand with solemn respect in front of the Vietnamese War memorial and commemorate the courage, endurance and sacrifice of Australian and Vietnamese soldiers, who fought side by side to defend the Republic of South Vietnam.

With the Australian and Vietnamese flags raised high, we honour the thousands of South Vietnamese troops, together with 521 Australian soldiers, who made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of freedom and liberty.

Our Vietnam Veterans have an unshakable belief in freedom and the right for people to live with dignity and respect. Their bravery and courage in upholding these noble beliefs is not only humbling, but deeply inspiring. For their sacrifice, we are forever to be in debt. Although 40 years have passed, the pain and devastation inflicted by this war is still felt by many and the memories remain vivid.

Today, we also remember thousands of Vietnamese people who attempted the treacherous journey out of Vietnam, determined to rebuild their lives and, sadly perishing at sea or in the jungles. Our prayers remain with them. But for those who made it, for those standing here today, you are entitled to be most proud of your achievements since coming to Australia.

Following the fall of Saigon 40 years ago, Australia accepted more than 50,000 Vietnamese refugees fleeing persecution in the hope to find freedom and a chance for a better life.

Today, I would like to acknowledge the contribution of our former Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser, who sadly passed away last month. It was Malcom Fraser who had the courage and compassion to open Australia’s door and welcome Vietnamese refugees. This was a courageous decision and one which showed great foresight

given that many Vietnamese refugees who have made Australia their home, are today making a remarkable contribution to our nation.

Today, Australia is proud to be home to more than 200,000 people who claim Vietnamese heritage. Apart from sharing your vibrant culture and traditions with the broader Australian society, the Vietnamese Australians have contributed much in all areas of community life. Your achievements should be the source of great pride, particularly given the struggle and hardships that you have had to overcome.

Despite the Vietnamese community’s successful settlement in Australia, I know you have never forgotten about the Vietnamese people still living under an oppressive regime in your home land. People whose human rights have been violated and whose dignity is ignored. People who still dream of freedom and liberty.

Yet last week, the Australian Government returned 46 Asylum seekers back to Vietnam as part of a secret operation. Given Vietnam’s appalling human rights record, these claims for asylum should not have been processed in secret and not at sea.

On this 40th anniversary of the fall of Saigon;

Let us remember and honour the sacrifices of Australian and Vietnamese soldiers, many of whom did not return;

Let us recall the harsh challenges faced by thousands of Vietnamese refugees who made the treacherous journey to find freedom and peace;

And importantly, today above all day, let us pledge to stand by the people of Vietnam as they strive for freedom, democracy and recognition of their basic human rights.

In closing and in expressing gratitude to our patriotic heroes, allow me to read a verse from a poem written by my dear friend, Bao Khanh Nguyen, who is with us today. It reads:

There was the time, you were there for us
There was the time, you fought for us
For our freedom, for our lives
Always the time, we’ll adore you
Always the time, we’ll remember you
Our heroes, our friends.

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