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The fall of Kabul disrupts Saigon’s escape memories


Shekib Rahmani / AP

Hundreds of people have gathered near the US Air Force C-17 aircraft at the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Aug. 16.

Thao-Nguyen Le never existed they can stop thinking about Afghanistan.

For Le, whose father was arrested by the Communist government in Vietnam after the US left Saigon in 1975, Pictures of Afghans trying to flee the country are sparking. People have been seen clinging to a cargo plane, larger walls with thorn wire, and filling the airport tar. Watching the news at their home in Paris has made Le sad, sad, and angry and reminisce about the pain of his childhood in Vietnam after the war.

Born in 1983 in Dalat, a resort about 190 miles[190km]northeast of Ho Chi Minh (formerly Saigon), Le grew up in poverty, begging for money from his relatives and relying on neighbors to provide fuel for his family. When he was accused of being a traitor by the American people during the war, his father struggled to find work. In addition to his arrest after Saigon’s fall, he was arrested again after Le’s birth when he tried to flee Vietnam by boat. Now, as she follows news from Afghanistan, Le is worried about the future of those who may be left behind as her family was 46 years ago.

“I think about my family, what they went through … and I think it will happen in Afghanistan. [is] It’s going to be more, worse than I can imagine, “Le told BuzzFeed News.

In the days when the Taliban seized Kabul, President Joe Biden and his superiors said so defended his approach to removal American troops on the verge of ending 20 years of war, refusal to compare with the fall of Saigon in 1975. But for Vietnamese refugees and their families, the chaos and ramifications of this moment’s ramifications feel disturbing and understandable.

“For me, looking at pictures of Saigon’s fall was very similar,” said Cammie P., who grew up in British Columbia after her parents fled Vietnam in the 1980’s. their house is finished.

Jean-claude Labbe / Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

The fall of Saigon in April 1975

When North Vietnamese forces closed in Saigon in the last days of the Vietnam War in late April 1975, the US deported civilians of American and Vietnamese civilians by helicopter, highlighting the difficulties that had been filmed around the world. Thousands of Vietnamese people fled from boats and other planes. Over the next two decades, hundreds of thousands more fled the country to escape the economic woes of war and the ensuing Communist regime, seeking refuge in the US and elsewhere. In their desperation, some died at sea.

Hang Nguyen Mac’s father, Sam, left the North Vietnamese Army in the early 1950’s and knew that if he was captured by the Communist army, he could be sent to prison or executed. So when the Mac family heard that the Viet Cong was coming to Saigon, they immediately arranged for the departure. On April 30, 1975, when the city fell into northern Vietnamese, a family of six and more than a dozen relatives boarded a ship to leave the country.

Mac, now 60 and living in Southern California, spoke to BuzzFeed News about photos from Kabul showing Afghans “packed like canned fish” inside a US warplane escape.

“That was how we were on the train,” says Mac, then 14 years old.

Courtesy of Hang Nguyen Mac

Hang Nguyen Mac (center back) with his family at their home in Saigon in early 1975

Mac recalled that he was given the responsibility of making sure that his seven-year-old sister and two grandchildren, aged 3 and 4, left the city. As the mob surrounded the boat, he grabbed hold of his sister and her grandchildren and jumped into the boat. They carried the only clothes on their backs that the gold sewed in their trousers to exchange for going to the US.

As he made his way through the streets of Saigon with his parents in the last days before his flight, the smell of gunpowder was gone in the hot air. The children screamed, and people ran around the city with trembling faces.

Mac said he was scared at the time, but when he saw the turmoil at Kabul airport this week, he thought he was lucky.

“Yes, we were scared, but we were not in danger. They are, ”he said. “I was afraid of them.”

After Kabul’s rule, Taliban leaders said so pledged to respect women’s rights And pardon those who fought against them, but the Afghan was already there faced violence. Many doubt that the government will abandon its traditional form of oppression. More than 20,000 Afghans who assisted the US military, as well as thousands of their families, were able to obtain special Immigration Visas in the US but he insisted in bulk repayment from this year. With the Taliban taking over, the common people fear they may face punishment or death. Flights from Kabul continue, but only for people whose documents are valid – and who can reach the airport.

“Depression is very serious, and especially for women and girls and children,” Mac said.


People boarding a Spanish A400 fighter jet as part of an evacuation plan at Kabul airport in Afghanistan on Aug. 18.

The fall of Afghanistan took place much faster than US officials expected, but Vietnamese Americans who see the U.S. abandoning their families decades ago said it was not enough reason not to do much to get rid of their friends soon.

“We never learned a lesson in Vietnam,” said Sonny Phan, who studied at the University of Kansas in April 1975 and stopped communicating with his family after the fall of Saigon. “I don’t think anyone sat down and prepared the way out.”

Phan finally heard before Christmas in 1975 that his parents, brothers and sisters were still alive. They had decided not to flee Vietnam for fear of being separated from the sea. A few years later, Phan, now 69, heard how he struggled to find food and sold Levi’s jeans that he had sent from America for survival.

“It was a very difficult life,” Phan said, but he persevered.

Le, whose family emigrated to the US in 1993 through a prison program, said that despite living in the United States, his father had not yet recovered from his experience after leaving the United States in Saigon.

When they first heard about the program that allowed them to move, he could not believe that it was real. Given the prospect of a promising career as a meeting attendant in Seattle, he felt that his employers were trying to entice him to pursue a lucrative career. When Le’s mother tried to force him to buy a house, she worried that he would be taken away.

“He hasn’t stopped being abandoned,” Le said.

Courtesy of Thao-Nguyen Le

Thao-Nguyen Le (right) and his younger brother Trung Le to their grandparents in Dalat, Vietnam, in 1993.

Mu Twitter story about his family’s experiences and concerns for Afghans, Le wrote that although he was clearly a Vietnamese American, he needed to have a “dichotomy for America and all. [her] the savior is [her] cruel. “

“Without coming to America, I don’t think I would be where I am now,” said Le, who now works for a technology company based in New York. “Maybe I would be like a prostitute somewhere in Vietnam or I would be somewhere in the streets and in poverty. I don’t think I could live where I am now.”

But at the same time, he doubts that his family would be forced to leave their country if the US did not take part in the war.

He said: “I do not know what would have happened.

Now Vietnamese refugees are hoping that the US and other countries will take as many Afghan people as possible and give them a chance to start again.

“They need the same things that my family did when we came here,” says Thuy Kim, who moved to Alabama at the age of 2 in 1991. “Of course, circumstances are very different. It’s another war, it’s a different time, but I think that’s what really connects people, and they need our help as human beings more than anything else. ”●


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