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Thieu’s Prisoners

To the Editors:

We, the undersigned, as specialists on Asia, look upon the 1973 Paris Peace Agreement on Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam as an important step toward achieving peace in Asia. We believe that Thieu’s policy on political prisoners which has US support constitutes a fundamental violation of the Agreement and risks the resumption of war.

More than 200,000 political prisoners are still held in the jails of the Saigon administration. According to Article 8 of the Agreement, arrangements concerning the release of prisoners are to be made by April 27, 1973. However, not only has the Saigon administration taken no steps for their release, on the contrary, it has: a) imprisoned many more persons since the Agreement went into effect, including neutralists, Buddhists, students, professors, intellectuals, and professional people, b) arbitrarily renamed political prisoners as common criminals in order to prevent their release, c) continued to systematically torture and keep prisoners in subhuman conditions, including tiger-cages, and even murdered prisoners—all in violation of the 1949 Geneva Convention concerning civilian rights in wartime, the 1948 Declaration of Human Rights and the Nuremberg Charter.

As Asia specialists and human beings, we feel we have a role to play in influencing American opinion on the Agreement and thus helping to prevent the resumption of war. We demand that the terms of Article 8 of the Agreement be fulfilled, that all political prisoners in South Vietnam be immediately released, and that all Vietnamese be allowed to voice their political opinions. No American aid should be given to the Thieu administration as long as it refuses to comply with these basic provisions of the Agreement.

George McT. Kahin, Cornell University

Kurt Steiner, Stanford University

K. J. Pelzer, Yale University

Lucien Bianco, University of Michigan

John W. Lewis, Stanford University

Mikio Sumiya, University of Tokyo, University of Illinois

J. P. Harrison, Hunter College, CUNY

Martin Bernal, Cornell University

J. Langlois, Princeton University

George O. Totten, University of Southern California

And over 250 other Asian specialists. (This statement was signed on April 1. As this issue goes to press there is no indication of anything more than token arrangements for release. See “Appeal for the Release of Vietnamese Political Prisoners,” NYR, April 19, 1973, p. 42.)

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