The coverage of the liberation of Saigon by Vietnamese fighters 30 years ago is a reminder of the inspiration of that victorious struggle against US imperialism
The end was both dramatic and total. There were unforgettable scenes of US soldiers and the US ambassador frantically scurrying around trying to get a helicopter out of the city.
After a war lasting over ten years and with estimated deaths in all of south east Asia approaching four million people, the most powerful nation on earth was defeated.
Despite the use of the most horrific weapons by the US, the occupation of Vietnam was over. Vietnam more than anything else exposed the weakness of the great imperialist powers.
The Vietnam War showed the world that US imperialism was not invincible.
But the sprit of resistance around the world against the war in Vietnam and the struggle for civil rights in the US did not die with the liberation of Saigon. The fall of Saigon gave us inspiration to fight on.
We know that US and British imperialism can be defeated. It is no accident that many of the leaders and activists of the movement against the Iraq war were involved in the anti-war movement in the 1960s and 1970s.
Our movement has started where we left off last time. Now we are broader, stronger and wiser.
The most important lesson we have learned from those years is that we need to reach out to all those who opposed the war, all those who are angered by the growing inequality and the growing power of big business.
We need to build a mighty movement that will challenge the very nature of capitalist society — the greed for profits. The Labour Party has failed us.
Over the next few days I will be campaigning for Respect in the general election. The failure of the anti-war movement in the US to build an alternative led them to support John Kerry, who backed the war, in last year’s US presidential election.
Respect is attempting to build an alternative to war, racism and poverty. Saigon was liberated 30 years ago. We now have to liberate the world from Bush and Blair.
Ron Senchak, Former US soldier, Manchester
Stop the War book is fantastic read
I took a copy of the new Stop the War book to school the other day to show a colleague. His response was, “What a fantastic book.” This wasn’t just because of the photos and graphics. It was also because the book gives a real feel of the anti-war movement.
Stop the War shows how the different traditions have come together to make it the most exciting and dynamic movement any of us have ever known.
Sometimes when you are in the thick of things you can forget how much we have achieved.
The book shows the way the political face of Britain has been changed by the movement. It documents the inspiration we have got from the activities of the school students, workers and Military Families Against War.
Andrew Murray and Lindsey German have successfully written the history of our movement with contributions throughout the book from the individuals involved in shaping that movement.
It shows that the feeling behind this movement has not gone away and will carry on growing until the last troops have left Iraq.
Sally Kincaid, Leeds Coalition to Stop the War
Stop the War: the story of Britain’s biggest mass movement by Andrew Murray and Lindsey German is available from Bookmarks, the socialist bookshop, for £12.99. Phone 020 7637 1848 or go to www.bookmarks.uk.com
We will not vote Labour
As former active longtime members and previous supporters of the Labour Party we wish to make it known that we do not intend to vote Labour in the constituency of Delyn on 5 May.
Among us there are those who worked to get David Hanson elected as the first Labour MP for Delyn in 1992. Also among us are those who actively protested against the 1991 Gulf War.
Since then another much bloodier attack has been made by the same two powers upon the same nation. The second attack was made by a British Labour government. We would never have expected our MP to have been an uncritical supporter of such actions.
Many letters of protest to our MP pointing out the illegality and folly of the attacks upon Afghanistan and Iraq bore no fruit. So we will take advantage of the only power we have left. We will not vote for David Hanson.
Freda Hynes, Stewart Milne, Joan Santana, John Thompson, Margaret Webster, Keith Williams and Margaret Williams, Delyn, North Wales
A worrying attack
As a Unison union activist and anti-racist campaigner, I was disturbed by an apparently hostile reference to asylum seekers in Unison Labour Link News.
On the back page is an attack on Michael Howard, recalling his record in office. While most of it is fair comment, point nine reports, apparently disapprovingly, that asylum applications rose when Howard was home secretary.
Wouldn’t Unison argue that the number of asylum applications depends on war and repression, and is not a sign of a government being “soft”?
Doesn’t the union argue that immigration benefits Britain and divisive rhetoric hurts us all? I’ve been proud of Unison for taking a principled stand in solidarity with asylum seekers and immigrants.
Unison has rightly stood as an ally of the vulnerable. To risk throwing this away for the sake of point scoring is not worth it.
Ben Drake, York
Two students who shame the politicians
I am outraged by the recent press coverage in certain tabloids and the statements made by the Conservative Party leader Michael Howard regarding asylum seekers.
These views are not really unexpected. But the other political parties trying to outbid each other to attack asylum seekers is.
Two students at City and Islington College in north London, who have just won outstanding student of the year awards, are facing deportation. How obscene that politicians are inciting bigotry against people like this without having any understanding of their previous suffering.
Robel Kahsay has won student of the year, and a Learning and Skills Council award, and has been entered for a national award. Robel comes from Ethiopia where he was held in a detention centre and tortured. He is still having plastic surgery on his face.
Abdul Aziz Turay is another exceptionally talented student. He comes from Liberia where he was forced to become a child soldier and fight in a rebel militia. He was then imprisoned for three years.
Both these students have been offered places at university.
We’ve been campaigning at the college and managed to get the local paper to launch a petition in support of these students. Campaigning works.
If you wish to sign, log on to www.islingtonexpress.co.uk/content/islington/highandi/news/appealform.aspx
Pat O’Mahony, City and Islington College
I stood up against the BNP broadcast
As a BBC worker I was disgusted that BBC management decided to air a party political broadcast by the Nazi British National Party (BNP) even though it has no legal obligation to do so.
I was horrified that a programme I was working on the following day was to contain a clip from the BNP’s party political broadcast.
This was a piece of music that was inciting racial hatred against people from my background. It attacked Iraqis and Afghans. I felt sick to my stomach.
I informed my managers that I was not prepared to broadcast this clip. I was pulled off all programmes for the rest of the week.
I was then threatened with disciplinary action. I was told that I was a liability and an embarrassment to the department.
It is my managers that are the embarrassment for putting out such racist filth.
Fortunately, I had support from other BBC workers and my trade union Bectu. Bectu had written to the BBC asking them not to air the broadcast.
I have been given the full support of my union. We have to make sure the BNP is off our airwaves for good.
Somaye Zadeh, Central London
Respect is an election relief
This has to go down as one of the most nasty, filthy mainstream election campaigns in years.
Seeing Michael Howard scapegoating asylum seekers and Tony Blair boasting about how many asylum seekers he has kicked out is enough to make any decent person feel like putting their head in the oven.
What a relief it was to go over to Birmingham and leaflet for Respect’s Salma Yaqoob. This is a growing movement that will not allow Tony Blair to use a third victory as a mandate for more imperialist wars and privatisation.
Joe Varney, Coventry
Postal voting has benefits
In Switzerland we have had postal voting (Socialist Worker, 23 April) for ten years. It is the most popular way of voting. We can also vote online, and a borough is introducing text message voting for the next election.
This works because every citizen is obliged to register at his or her local council office within ten days of moving into a new address. The advantage is that the percentage who vote has climbed and this has led to increased interest in political subjects.
Ian Kelly, Switzerland
Zionism is the wrong way
What has happened to the Zionist Jews? These are the people whom our fathers and grandfathers risked their lives to protect while they were under Hitler’s regime.
They were the suffering innocents whom the world pitied.
The state of Israel was founded through terrorism, but now they build walls and destroy peoples’ livelihoods.
They inflict the same sort of treatment on the Palestinians that they cried out against when they were receiving it. Unfortunately the decent non-Zionist Jews seldom get their voices heard.
Marina Jones, Northampton
China didn’t veto protests
The recent anti-Japanese protests happening across China (Socialist Worker, 30 April) are being implicitly supported by the Chinese state.
Since the beginning of the protests they have been in the media every day. In a state where censorship of the media is very tight it is interesting that this happened.
If the Chinese government did not support this movement then it could have suppressed it. However the issue of a Japanese seat at the UN Security Council is important.
These protests allow China to veto the proposal, something they almost never do because of accusations of being undemocratic by the US.
Fergus Alexander, Hong Kong
Remembering brave struggle
On Sunday 24 April a memorial gathering took place in Tredegar, South Wales, to lay a plaque in memory of those who went to fight in the Spanish Civil War from the Blaenau Gwent area.
Around 100 people attended what was a very moving tribute to those who gave their lives to fight fascism.
The Labour MP Llew Smith and the former MP for the area Michael Foot were present. The gathering took place with many expecting the independent Labour candidate Peter Law to beat Maggie Jones, the official Labour candidate in the area.
Huw Williams, Blackwood
Why have the Greens stood?
I was shocked to see that the Scottish Greens have not stood down in favour of anti-war campaigner Rose Gentle in East Kilbride in the general election.
The Scottish Socialist Party has stood down and is supporting Rose. The Greens have stood down in favour of Reg Keys, who is standing against Tony Blair in Sedgefield. What reasons can the Scottish Greens have to stand?
Mary Ford, Dundee