Vietnamese Dead at Sea!
September 1977 (*)
New York —An estimated 110,000 Vietnamese fleeing Communist persecution in fragile boats have already perished at sea. Thousands more face a like fate. Moved by the unfortunate plight of these heroic people, the American TFP is appealing to the Christian consciences of Americans to bring this situation to an end, and is taking as its own the messages addressed to Paul VI and President Carter by the President of the Brazilian TFP. The full text of the telex to Paul VI follows:
TO PAUL VI
"His Holiness Pope Paul VI
The Brazilian Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property paying to Your Holiness the homage of its profound respect, solicits by your leave your precious attention to the tragic destiny to which Vietnamese families — many of them Catholic — are subjected. These people, fleeing from the brutal Communist persecution which has been established in the land of their fathers, have ventured onto the open seas in fragile vessels and pinned their hopes on the sense of justice and compassion of the navigators they may meet in their odyssey.
The ports of the neighboring nations — some of them only yesterday allies of the fugitives — in the great majority of cases were coldly and inexorably closed to them. The ships of almost all nationalities also avoided picking them up. So these families suffer risks and torments that defy description, and many end by perishing in a desolation that is easily imagined.
Such reports as this appearing of late in scattered accounts were confirmed by the tragic declarations made in Tokyo by the well-known ex-congressmen Mr. Tran Van Son, a former leader of the opposition in South Vietnam. He estimates the number of Vietnamese refugees who have perished like this at 110,000 and believes that only 8,000 have been saved. These declarations were printed on the front page of the London Times on September 13.
With this in mind Your Holiness will certainly not doubt that History will one day record with severity and horror the fact that families, which have given proof of elevated moral dignity and noble intrepidity by preferring to risk their lives rather than subject themselves to the degrading yoke of Communism, have been the object of such treatment in our century.
The tragic and undeserved situation in which these true heroes find themselves would be enough to demonstrate the tact that terror of displeasing the Communist governments has dominated that extensive area and inhibits the freedom of action of nations and private shipping companies which, in normal conditions, would obviously come to their assistance.
In a word, Holy Father, to our way of seeing things, there is not now in the world an episode in which more fundamental human rights are at stake.
To deny this, Your Holiness can see quite well, would amount to saying that these heroic Vietnamese do not have rights, or that they are not men.
Since the august throne of Saint Peter is the highest and most powerful source of justice and charity among men, to it at this moment turn the afflicted and hopeful eyes of those who all over the world are grieved by this tragedy. They are moved by an ardent and respectful desire that your Holiness appeal to all the powers on earth still capable of taking pity at this situation and urge them to do everything in favor of these unfortunate children of Your Holiness.
The Brazilian Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property, the largest civil anti-communist organization in Brazil, here respectfully addresses its appeal to Your Holiness that you intervene, being certain that it is expressing the general longing of all those for whom the words "human rights" have an elevated Christian content.
It seems to us that a public intervention of Your Holiness would stimulate the non-communist governments to give a guarantee to the countries of the Far East that they will have no reprisal to fear should they grant asylum to these victims of Communist cruelty.
We also think that at a request of Your Holiness the governments of the free peoples would hasten to send planes, ships and all kinds of assistance to those unfortunate Vietnamese.
Human Rights Policy at Stake
Your Holiness, who has made so many pronouncements on human rights will undoubtedly feel in Your heart that the continuation of the state of abandonment in which these glorious and unfortunate families have found themselves up to now threatens to put the very authenticity and efficacy of the world-wide campaign for human rights in question before the eyes of public opinion.
These considerations encourage in the members and cooperators of this Society the conviction that this appeal will not rise in vain to Your Holiness. In this disposition of soul, they are already beseeching Divine Providence to favor and crown with success the measures that Your Holiness may see fit to take in this matter.
Asking the blessing of Your Holiness for the Brazilian Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property and for myself, I sign with veneration. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, President of the National Council." [19th September 1977]
In a similar message to President Carter, Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira says:
"The Brazilian Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property, the largest civil anti-communist organization of Brazil, respectfully addresses Your Excellency, as the universal promoter of the campaign in favor of human rights, imploring you to start with the utmost urgency an efficient investigation of the facts we have mentioned; that you address all the countries and shipping companies involved with this matter, to give them guarantees so that they may fulfill the international laws of hospitality without fear of reprisals of any nature. We also ask Your Excellency to send ships and planes there which may give immediate assistance to those refugees.
"Your Excellency, Mr. President, has in your hands the greatest political, military, and economic power in today's world. We request that you use it to aid these unfortunate people. Thus you will obtain the blessings of God, so indispensable for any grandeur to be lasting and truly great."
(*) See TRADICION FAMILIA PROPIEDAD - UN IDEAL, UN LEMA, UNA GESTA: La Cruzada del siglo XX, 1990, Sección Segunda - TFPs acciones conjuntas en el ambito internacional, 1977 - ANTE EL DRAMA DE VIETNAM Y DE CUBA, las TFPs esclarecen al público sobre la política de los derechos humanos.