Uncontained Rants...

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

a historic moment...

As I sit thinking of something insightful to share, a news report of Vietnam’s Prime Minister Pham Van Khai’s visit with Dub-Bush earlier today displays muted images in my living room. The anchorman describes this historic event: The U.S. and “Vi-et-nam”. Two countries…once enemies…the convergence of their leaders...Bush to visit Vietnam next year for economic summit. Looking at the two men seated awkwardly on their diplomatic thrones, amidst the flash of cameras and reporters, I feel strangely torn. My distaste for Bush coupled with my mixed feelings regarding Vietnam’s precarious political ideology and burgeoning economic position leaves my heart heavy and my mind whirling. The news story segues to Vietnamese protesters, faces old and young gathered outside the delegation grounds in D.C. Even though the camera pans the crowd for a mere two seconds, I can already imagine the atmosphere. Emotions ring high and yellow flags emblazoned with the familiar red stripes are waved tirelessly as chants permeate the air through throats hoarse with fury. Will US-VN relations really be normalized by this “historic photo-op”? What does that mean anyways?

I remember walking along the Venice boardwalk talking to Gerard about the issue of human rights and how it would affect US-Vietnam relations. He looked me dead in the eye and reminded me that those issues are of little importance to the guys (power players) making the investments and reaping the financial benefits of the money-making venture that is Vietnam. It was in that moment that I realized how naive my concerns might be, that as passionate as I am about voicing these injustices, when it comes to the politics of both governments, they are of little significance to those in power. Yet, the idealist in me still clings tightly onto the belief that those who proliferate injustice must be held accountable. It’s apparent that the floodgates have already been opened and Vietnam will go under some extreme makeovers in the next 10-15 years, but there is still sense in speaking out and advocating, isn’t there? So, what now? Be supportive or remain defiant? You tell me.

Here's NPR's report on the visit. audio link

In the meantime, here's an informative and pursuasive letter from a Vietnamese dissident urging reform. link.

edit: As well as a letter addressed to Bush from VA's printed in ad space in the Washington Post and Washington Times on June 21st. link.

In other news...

The Bolinao 52 Fundraiser was a great success! Raising a bit over $10K on Saturday, anh Duc is quickly moving towards his intended goal of $30K to finish the film. From what I heard, it was an incredibly moving night of community building and healing for everyone involved. The journey continues this summer with interviews with survivors in Asia (Japan and Philippines). It was a blessing to be part of the B-52 team (a remarkable group of individuals) and I look forward to future projects…B-52 hitting NorCal?

In addition to the live auction, powerful speakers and performances, there was also an exhibit of pieces from the Project Ngoc Collection. The Project Ngoc Collection was created and donated by a UCI student group to advocate for Vietnamese refugees who remained in camps in Hong Kong long after the end of the War. The Project publicized the refugees’ plight, sent student volunteers to work in the camps, and advocated for humanitarian reforms. The students’ also collected and exhibited paintings and drawings created by refugee artists in the camps, several of which appear in the exhibit. Project Ngoc disbanded in 1997 after the camps were closed.

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