Viet­nam protests Canada com­mem­o­rat­ing ‘boat peo­ple’ who fled com­mu­nists

The China Post - - COMMENTARY -

Hanoi has is­sued a stern re­buke to Ottawa af­ter the Canadian Se­nate passed a bill com­mem­o­rat­ing the ar­rival of tens of thou­sands of “boat peo­ple” who fled af­ter Saigon fell to the com­mu­nists 40 years ago.

Viet­nam’s for­eign min­istry said it had sum­moned the Canadian am­bas­sador Fri­day to lodge a for­mal com­plaint about the move, which dubs April 30 “Jour­ney to Free­dom Day.”

Com­mu­nist forces cap­tured Saigon, then the cap­i­tal of the U.S.backed South Viet­nam regime, on April 30, 1975, mark­ing the end of decades of con­flict and trig­ger­ing a mass ex­o­dus of refugees.

Hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple linked to the South Viet­namese regime fled the coun­try in rick­ety boats, many drown­ing along the way.

West­ern coun­tries in­clud­ing the U.S., France, Australia and Canada col­lec­tively ac­cepted some 1 mil­lion South Viet­namese refugees.

In com­mu­nist Viet­nam, April 30 is cel­e­brated as “re­uni­fi­ca­tion day” and the coun­try is pre­par­ing for an elab­o­rate event this Thurs­day to mark four decades since the end of the war.

The Canadian Se­nate’s move was “com­pletely wrong” said for­eign min­istry spokesman Le Hai Binh ac­cord­ing to a state­ment posted on its of­fi­cial web­site.

The bill “dis­torts the his­tory of na­tional lib­er­a­tion and uni­fi­ca­tion of the Viet­namese peo­ple,” he said in a state­ment, adding that Viet­nam “res­o­lutely op­poses” the move.

“This is a back­ward step in the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the two coun­tries, ad­versely af­fect­ing the grow­ing ties be­tween Viet­nam and Canada and hurt­ing the feel­ings of Viet­namese peo­ple as well as a great part of the Viet­namese com­mu­nity in Canada,” Binh said.

The Canadian bill was pro­posed by a se­na­tor of Viet­namese de­scent. The Se­nate is con­trolled by Canada’s rul­ing Con­ser­va­tives.

Canada has a large eth­nic Viet­namese com­mu­nity and the leg­is­la­tion may be an at­tempt by the Con­ser­va­tives to win votes in up­com­ing Oc­to­ber polls.

The Canadian em­bassy in Hanoi re­ferred ques­tions to the gov­ern­ment’s me­dia cen­ter in Ottawa, which did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment.

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