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Case study: Ho Chi Minh and Vietnamese independence

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In 1945, Ho Chi Minh gave a speech declaring the independence of Vietnam. Vietnams impendence came after being exploited by the Japanese and the French. “The first lines of his speech repeated verbatim the famous second paragraph of America’s 1776 Declaration of Independence.” (Ho Chi Minh, 1945)

Ho’s speech proclaiming Vietnam’s independence contains a demand that the free world supports that independence in part as payment for services rendered during World War 2.

What ‘service’ did Vietnam render during that conflict?

Ho stated, that the people of Vietnam sacrificed so much during World War Two. The French exploited Vietnam economically during the war and fighting between France and Japan spilled into Vietnam. The people of Vietnam were caught in the middle and suffered greatly. They were left in sheer poverty. Many were near death due to Malaria and starvation. Ho felt that because the people of Vietnam had suffered such great injustices and sacrificed so much that Vietnam deserved the support of the world regarding its independence from France and Japan. Ho also references the long-term sacrifices Vietnam has endured, he stated, “Nevertheless, for more than eighty years, the French imperialists, abusing the standard of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity, have violated our Fatherland and oppressed our fellow-citizens. They have acted contrary to the ideals of humanity and justice.” (Ho Chi Minh, 1945)

Ho claims that Vietnam’s independence is consistent with the philosophical principles which the Allies claimed were paramount during World War 2. What principles was Ho referring to, and does he make references to occasions where those principles were reasserted?

Ho is referring to the principles that both the United States and Frances’s constitutions are founded on. Those principles are liberty, equality, and freedom. He quoted the United States declaration of independence and stated, “All the peoples on the earth are equal from birth, all the peoples have a right to live, to be happy and free.” (Ho Chi Minh, 1945) He also went on to reference France’s declaration of independence where it reiterates that all men are equal and have the right to be free. Ho stated, that France violated its own beliefs by “abusing the standard of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity.” Of the people of Vietnam.

Ho references Tehran and San Francisco in his speech. He stated, “We are convinced that the Allied nations which at Tehran and San Francisco have acknowledged the principles of self-determination and equality of nations, will not refuse to acknowledge the independence of Vietnam.” (Ho Chi Minh, 1945)

In the speech, Ho mentions crimes committed by the French during their occupation of Vietnam. Which crimes, as you read them, were in your opinion most severe and justified.

Vietnamese independence?

The French were ruthless and committed many heinous crimes against the people of Vietnam. More than half of Ho’s speech speaks about the crimes committed against his people.

One of the most significant statements made by Ho was “They have built more prisons than schools. They have mercilessly slain our patriots; they have drowned our uprisings in rivers of blood.” (Ho Chi Minh, 1945) This statement speaks volumes, it describes a grave situation. The people of Vietnam were stripped from gaining knowledge, education, or the opportunity to have a political voice. The French exploited so much of Vietnams resources that its people were left in poverty and famine.

In conclusion, I believe that Ho truly wanted to see Vietnam spread its wings and gain its right to independence. He spoke passionately about how liberty, equality, and freedom were rights of all men and he wanted the people of Vietnam to have the same rights. He spoke for the people Vietnam when he stated, “The entire Vietnamese people are determined to mobilize all their physical and mental strength, to sacrifice their lives and property in order to safeguard their independence and liberty.” (Ho Chi Minh, 1945) No longer were the people of Vietnam going to set back and be exploited for their resources. On that day Ho let the world know that Vietnam had declared its independence and would do anything to keep it from being in jeopardy again.

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