Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Hoang Minh Chinh remembered

Sophie Quinn-Judge reflects on Hoang Minh Chinh (1920-2008), a Moscow-trained Marxist philosopher who first fell out of favor with Vietnam communist leaders when he advocated peaceful coexistence in 1963. A lifelong revolutionary, he had been imprisoned by the French from 1940-43 for his anti-colonial activities; and in 1960 was made head of the Institute of Philosophy in Hanoi after receiving training in Moscow. This background made him suspect to the more Maoist oriented hardliners in the Vietnamese communist leadership. He was arrested in 1967 and held in prison for six years followed by three years house arrest.

During the last years of his life, in the post-doi moi era, Chinh became a prominent leader of the pro-democracy movement:

"Hoang Minh Chinh himself continued to suffer humiliation, harassment and close police surveillance, especially after he travelled to the United States for cancer treatment in 2005 and joined forces with advocates of democracy among the overseas Vietnamese. But he still had some last words of advice for the government. In a final testament he called for more openness regarding the disputed border issues under discussion with the Chinese, justice for ordinary people and true solidarity among all Vietnamese. As many Vietnamese have reminded their leaders in recent years, he pointed out that the country does not belong to any particular party or person."

Source: Open Democracy, April 30.


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