Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Vietnam! The Next Domino to Fall?

Claudia Rosett has an article on Wall Street Journal Opinion Journal that is heartening.

Word came that the Sharansky of Saigon, democratic dissident Nguyen Dan Que, had been released from his latest stretch in Vietnam's prisons. Though Dr. Que, as he prefers to be called, is now dogged by state security agents around the clock and allowed no phone or computer of his own, he could arrange to be on the receiving end of a phone call.

So at an appointed hour, I picked up the phone in New York and spoke with Dr. Que, a 63-year-old doctor who has by now spent almost half his life fighting for liberty in Vietnam. Given that Vietnam's secret police almost certainly eavesdrop on any contact he has with the wider world, I was prepared for a discreet and carefully phrased conversation, meant to minimize his risk. Dr. Que was not. He got straight to the point: "What I want is liberty for my people." The question now, he said, "is how to make regime change in Vietnam." For democratization of his country, he added, "support from the rest of the world is important." Specifically, he wants Hanoi's decaying communist party to "put forward a timetable for free and fair elections."

News spreads in spite of and the desire for freedom is being fed.

It is important for the world to understand that in saying such things, Dr., Que knows all too well the risk he is taking. Back in 1975, as Saigon fell, he had a chance to leave--and turned it down. Even today, he says, "For me, exile is not freedom." Instead, for more than 30 years he has seized every chance to speak out and demand liberty for his country. For that, under Vietnam's communist regime, he has paid dearly--spending more than 20 years in labor camps and prisons. Released on two previous occasions, due to international pressure, Dr. Que seized the chance each time to again demand freedom for Vietnam's people. Twice, the regime jailed him again, most recently in March 2003--an outrage that was swamped at the time by the flood of news from Iraq, as the U.S.-led coalition went in to overthrow Saddam Hussein.

30 years a dissident in Vietnam. The courage and determination of this man is unbelievable. This is the sort of character that show us that the spirit of man can rise to great heights. I'm willing to bet the North Koreans are dogged by similar 'problematic' citizens. Will we hear their voice?

Don't forget to mention them in your little talks with God today.

Hat tip to Pull On Superman's Cape