Australian Member of Parliament Chris Hayes delivered a video message to the Vietnamese-Australian community on his Facebook page to commemorate the 45th anniversary of the Fall of Saigon.
Below is a transcription of his video message provided by the Viet Tan Media Team.
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The 30th of April this year marks the 45th anniversary of the Fall of Saigon. 45 years since many Vietnamese lost their homes, family members, friends, and above all, their country. Although we can’t gather together this year because of the Coronavirus, we still remember the loss of Vietnam’s freedom. We remember the soldiers who fought and died in the defense of their country. We also remember the thousands of people who lost their lives in the various jungles or at sea while fleeing tyranny in search of freedom. Their sacrifice is an indelible reminder that freedom is precious and it is never free.
The Fall of Saigon also marks 45 years since many Vietnamese refugees began settling here and making Australia their home. It has been my great privilege to witness the extraordinary contribution the Vietnamese community has made in our nation. Your generosity and compassion for others, your strong work ethic, and profound belief in education clearly underpins the extraordinary role that Vietnamese-Australians have played in shaping the modern face of Australia. You have faced many challenges, and yet, through your courage and determination, Vietnamese-Australians have proven themselves to be one of the most successful settlement stories in our country. As a nation, we need to show the same determination when we confront the challenges presented by the pandemic.
I also want to take this opportunity to acknowledge the various Vietnamese veterans for their service and their courage. In particular, I pay the respects to the families of General Le Minh Dao, who recently passed away; a well-respected man who was most harshly treated by the Communist authorities.
Today, I call on the Government of Vietnam to release all political prisoners. Simply using its criminal code to attack those who campaign for democratic processes, and observance of human rights really demeans Vietnam as a country. We cannot forget about the plight of Chau Van Kham, a retired 70-year-old Australian citizen from western Sydney who is serving a 12-year sentence on trumped-up charges of terrorism. Clearly, Mr. Chau must be released and allowed to be returned home to his wife and family. Even in the midst of this pandemic, we cannot gloss over the ongoing human rights violations in Vietnam. We cannot be silent in the face of injustice. We must continue to support those who strive for freedom, liberty, and respect for human rights.
During this pandemic, I ask that you and your loved ones keep safe, observe the basic hygiene measures, and practice social distancing. Just as we together fight for freedom and respect for human rights, we also fight this pandemic together. And together, we will succeed.
Australian Member of Parliament
The full video of Mr. Haye’s message can be seen here.