In Vienna in 1966, Madeline Duckles, interviews 38 year old Nguyen Thi Bình, member of the Central Committee of the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam. Speaking with quiet courage, Madame Thi Bình shares a woman’s perspective on the atrocities of war, the need for peace through the enactment of an electoral democratic process in the region, the desire for peace negotiations with President Johnson’s White House and the critical needs of the South Vietnamese people, especially its children, to live and survive in spite of ongoing military conflict and violence.
“How does war affect the lives of your children, and what is your attitudes toward us, the American people?” asks Madeline Duckles in her interview.
“To answer you on this question means great pain to us…” answered Madame Thi Bình as she describes the actions of American soldiers and military operations during the war.
Pacifica Radio Preservation Access Project
Producer: Madeline Duckles
from the Pacifica Radio Archives
Translation: Madame Le Thi Cao
Date: 1968, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Length: 44:34 min
Madame Nguyen Thi Bình, (born Nguyen Châu Sa on 26 May 1927), was a leading delegate to the Paris Peace Conference, working on behalf of the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam.
Born in 1927 in Sa Ðéc province, Madame Thi Bình, was the granddaughter of Phan Chu Trinh, a social leader staunchly opposed to the use of violent means to bring democracy to Vietnam. He was also dedicated and worked to bring modern education to the region.
His daughter, who later became known as Madame Nguyen Thi Bình, studied French at Lycée Sisowath in Cambodia. Initially she worked as a teacher, later joining Vietnam’s Communist Party in 1948.
From 1945 to 1951, Thi Bình took part in various intellectual movements against the French authorities which subsequently lead to her arrest between 1951 and 1953 in Chi Hoa prison (Saigon). After serving her jail term, Madame Nguyen Thi Bình participated in the peace movement for the implementation of the Geneva Agreement.
During the Vietnam War, Thi Bình became a member of the Vietcong’s Central Committee and a vice-chairperson of the South Vietnamese Women’s Liberation Association. In 1969, she was appointed foreign minister of the Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam and played a major role in the signing of Paris Peace Accords on Vietnam, an agreement that provided the diplomatic means for America troops to pull out of the region, helping to engage and start the process to restore peace in Vietnam.
The Paris Peace Accords on Vietnam were entered into force, January 17, 1973. The war in Vietnam was finally declared over April 30, 1975.
Madame Nguyen Thi Bình is regarded today as a symbol of women’ s role in the “Resistance War”. After April 1975, she was appointed Minister of Education in a united Vietnam. She was elected Vice-President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in 1992 and then re-elected in 1997 and has served as Vietnamese Vice-President.
On September 4, 1995, at the United Nations 4th World Conference in Beijing, China, Madame Nguyen Thi Bình spoke to Dr. Gertrude Mongella, the Secretary General of the conference saying, “Like many other countries, my country, Vietnam has lived through long years of wars which have ravaged this already-poor land and left behind millions of orphans, widows, disabled and missing-in-action. Vietnamese women. as part of their nation have been tested by harsh trials and countless hardships. They have derived therefrom their exceptional endurance and tenacity, their ability to survive and to persist in their full identity through the storms of life, just like the Vietnamese bamboo tree, which is supple but unbreakable, which bends under the wind but does not break, and which afterwards, stand again as straight and proud as before.”
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