July 20, 1972: Fonda press conference


FBIS Transcript #6:

Press conference attributed to Jane Fonda in Hanoi

B222130 Hanoi in English to Europe, Africa and Middle East 2000 GMT 20 Jul 72 B

We devote this program to a press conference given in Hanoi Thursday evening by American actress Jane Fonda before leaving Hanoi after a two-week stay. In. this conference she gave the two reasons why she had arrived in Vietnam and told the audience about her activities during her sojourn here. She devoted much time to telling of the sights and sounds she could (?saw) in North Vietnam under the American air blitz. She strongly condemned U.S. deliberate attacks on dikes, dams and other irrigation work and population centers and lashed out strongly at Nixon's crimes and lies. Here is the recorded statement from Jane Fonda:

((Follows recorded female voice with American accent b FBIS))

I wanted to come to North Vietnam for two reasons. I wanted to find out for myself, whether or not Richard Nixon has been bombing civilian targets in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. Because, of course, this is being denied in the United States. And I also wanted to find out if what I was hearing on the radio in the United States was true. That the North was collapsing, that the women were sold into prostitution, that black market was rampant and that corruption was everywhere.

I arrived here on July 8th and despite the, the heavy bombing that makes it difficult for guests to travel here, I was able to visit many areas and meet many people.

I met young Minh, a 22-year old girl whobs been in jail three times in the prisons of the South and tortured by the soldiers of the ARVN army. I met actresses and singers from the mobile song and dance unit who have come from the front in South Vietnam. I have spoken with teachers, with doctors, historians, artists, film makers and actresses. Ibve met with students, with peasants, with workers and with American pilots b who are in extremely good health, I might add and will I hope be soon returned to the United States, and when they are returned, I think and they think that they will go back better citizens than when they left.

There were seven prisoners that I talked to, some of them who had never met, had never spoken to Americans before and they all re b- expressed regret about what they had done, and they said that they had come to recognize that the war is a terrible crime that must be ended immediately.

I went to the (Dang Huang) Agricultural Co-op, to a textile factory, a kindergarten in Hanoi, a Catholic church. I was taken to the (Truong Dinh) workersb living quarters, housing many hundreds of workers and their families, which was bombed on June 27th, killing many workers. The Bach Mai Hospital, Hanoibs largest hospital, bombed June 22D, two doctors killed. The Vietnam-Soviet Union Friendship Hospital also bombed on May 10th, and several days ago I went to Nam Dinh, the textile capital of Vietnam. I am told that the dikes were bombed at 4 obclock in the morning before I arrived, and it was bombed twice during the same day after I left. Once in a residential area and once the hydraulic system was -b is -b was bombed.

It is very clear to anybo -b one who has been in Nam Dinh that there are no military targets there. The most populous areas of town were bombed, the textile factory was bombed, the cultural center and the schools were bombed and the hospital was bombed.

The town of (Phu Li), which doesnbt even have any industry in it, practically razed to the ground, and on (?June 12th) I went to Nam Sach, the district of Nam Sach. As you know, 12 foreign journalists were almost bombed there on July 11th, and yet the Pentagon denies that this bombing took place. They went to see the damage that has been done by extensive bombing to strategic points on the major dike systems of the (Nam Dinh b Dim) district, and I saw with my own eyes the following day, that the dike has been cut in two in one of the most vulnerable points, and on both sides of, of the dike there are many bomb craters. This is a district with a population of 100,000 rice growers and pig breeders. As far as the eye can see, as far as the eye can see are rice fields. There are obviously no military targets, no gun installations, no tracks, no military materiel.

Melvin Laird the other day said that bombing of the dikes may be taking place, but that it is accidental, and it only happens if there is a military target on top of the dikes. Does he really think the Vietnamese would be foolish enough to put a military installation on top of an earth dike? And does he really believe that while on the one hand the Pentagon is boasting of the accuracy of its new weapons such as the laser bomb and the smart bomb, on the other hand he can claim accidental bombing of dikes, hydraulic systems, pumping stations and dam sluices?

Whether or not the bombing is accidental or not, I donbt want to argue. The point is that its results are genocidal. The danger, not only lies in store for people this year in terms of drowning and famine but for many years to come. For Ibm told that it takes many years for the earth, in these earthen dams to solidify sufficiently to withstand the torrential waters that flow down from the mountain range in the monsoon season.

I believe that Richard Nixon knows well what he is doing. Diplomatic sources and Hanoi have reported that officials within the Nixon Administration have admitted that there are bombing of the dikes in North Vietnam. I believe that to the Vietnamese people it is a national question. The building of the dikes, the protecting of their land has something that -b is something (?that has) been going on for many thousands of years. And so by striking at these targets he is striking at the very roots of the Vietnamese nation.

He has tried to justify these bombings and the bombings of the civilian targets by saying that they are in fact military, but in fact, the Nixon Administration has no right to bomb the Democratic Republic of Vietnam for any reason whatsoever, and in doing so, it is a violation of the Geneva Accord and the 1968 bombing halt.

These criminal attempts to destroy the Northern part of Vietnam physically and morally, I think, have to be put into its total context. When Johnson failed to turn South Vietnam into a neocolony in 1960 -b uh, in ah, in 1965, when it became apparent that people were about to take power into their own hands in South Vietnam, he started bombing the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. But of course this failed and he was forced to the Paris Peace Talks as you know and to sign the unconditional bombing halt.

Now even the top advisors, like Nixon's guerrilla expert Sir Robert Thompson and other officials in the White House and journalists admit that the pacification program is being dismantl -b dismantled and the Vietnamization program has failed. And so Nixon, who has always tried to negotiate from a position of strength, is once again attacking the Democratic Republic of Vietnam because he has failed in the South and he has even surpassed Johnson, in terms of b- of the horror and the destr -b destruction that he is raining upon this part of the country. He does this with the assumption that he can break the spirit of the people here, and then that will give him military and political leverage in South Vietnam, in Paris and in the United States.

Which brings me to the Second point of my trip to Vietnam: I think it's impossible to be in this country without realizing that bombs will never do anything but make the people of Vietnam more determined. Four thousand years of forging a land out of marshes and four thousand years of resisting invaders have prepared them well for anything that Mr. Nixon has to offer.

I have learned a lot about this two-pronged struggle that has gone on for so long in this country -b against nature and the other against foreign invaders. And during all 4,000 years, the Vietnamese people have always maintained a national identity, a fierce patriotism. They have suffered through 25 years of French colonialism, and now, after so much suffering and hardship, the land is theirs, and the people have taken power.

It seems to me that they are fighting for all their past heroes and heroines, for 4,000 years of struggle and for future generations, who they are preparing well to carry on the resistance if need be. It is ludicrous to think that these people in the northern part of Vietnam are temporarily separated from their families and friends in the South. It is ludicrous, it is ludicrous to think that these people in the northern part of Vietnam and whose passion is for their country, its trees, its land and its Party, that these people will ever compromise on the subject of freedom and independence. It is also ludicrous to think b- at least in the news that I've gathered from the South b- that the people there, the 90 percent peasants, who are rising up and reclaiming their land and their lives, will now, when total victory is so close, lay down their arms and surrender.

And this is of course what Nixon's call for a ceasefire is asking these people to do -b surrender. Nixon has obviously never read Vietnamese history, or else he reads badly. Or perhaps it -b perhaps it's that Westerners have a difficult time thinking in terms of people's war and self-determination. One thing that I have learned here and that I will never forget is that Vietnam is one country, that the United States by violating the Geneva Accords and preventing the elections in 1956, turned these temporary military regroupment zones into political and territorial questions.

How can the Vietnamese invade Vietnam? But there is an invasion taking place. It's coming from the 7th Fleet, from the aircraft carriers in the China Sea, from Guam and Thailand.

It is not by separating the military question from the political question that Nixon is going to be able to end this war. This has become very clear to me since I've been here. And it is not by dropping bombs on any part of Vietnam, but by addressing himself to the Seven Point proposal of the Political ((as heard}) Revolutionary Government, which is, after all, a most just and moral and humane proposal, which meets the needs of the Vietnamese people and certainly the interests of the American people. The United States must withdraw all its troops, air, ground and sea forces from Vietnam. It must set a date by which time all of these troops will be withdrawn. And it must cease the support of the Thieu regime, this criminal government in the southern part of Vietnam.

((Recording ends -- FBIS))

You have just listened to a recorded statement from Jane Fonda at a press conference given in Hanoi Thursday evening before she leave ((as heard)) Hanoi after a two-week stay.