A Tearful Day for a Tourist in Vietnam: Disability Discourse in Southeast Asia

This post was written by Cherish Picklyk, a graduate of the School of Disability Studies.

Ho chi ming City, VietnamPart 1- The War:
The Passion, Action, Vision to Destroy Lives to Win Power

A photograph of the War Remmants Museum in Vietnam

This is not the most pleasant blog to read. It makes one uncomfortable. My goal is to take that discomfort and open a discourse.
If you are feeling happy, save this blog for another day…..

My purpose is to refresh western culture’s mind of its privileged status. And to evoke a greater cultural awareness in our everyday interactions working in human services- with our clients from all over the globe.

These photos capture events that didn’t happen all that long ago.

The United States declares war on Vietnam from 1962-1971 to combat communist aggression.

Fighting With Those That Cannot Fight Backa black and white photograph of a woman and three children swimming

This mother and her children were all shot dead after this photo was taken. (Photo by quy Nhan, 1965)

A photograph of a museum sign about a 'French tiger cage'

A sepia photograph of three dead bodies being pulled behind an army vehicle

A photograph of american soldiers holding now a Vietnamese person

a photograph of underground cells for prisioners

Water boarding torture, dragging prisoners to death by army tanks, and worst or all tiger cages. No limits on measures taken to dominate another people.

A sign that reads
The situation in Viet Nam poses serious moral problems which are not merely diplomatic or tactical. Our nations is possessed of an immense power. To permits its utilization for unreasonable and barbarous purposes endangers the very foundation of American Influence

A group of American protestors

California, United States

“My son died in vain. Don’t fight.”

(Just because a country chooses to fight does not mean that all of its citizens are onboard)

a photograph of a museum sign of protesters in France

Paris, France – Requests America to withdraw its troops

a photograph of a sign that reads may peace prevail on earth

a pro-Vietnam propaganda poster

Italy – War propaganda poster supporting VietnamThe Martyr’s MessageTextbooks cannot define advocacy ……..
Here is a man that risked it all

a black and white photograph of a man

Portrait of Mr. Jui Cunosin. He set himself on fire until death in front of the Japanese prime minister to protest the war in 1967.

a sign that reads
although the United States said it protected the South Vietnam from the tyranny of Viet Cong, the hospitals here were full of innocent old people and children who had been killed by bombings from the United States and Southern troops. Farmers’ rice-paddies were completely confiscated. Surely, their sufferings were more than they were reported in the newspapers. The only way to save the Vietnamese peoples form those sufferings is to stop immediately and unconditionally the bombings by Americans. … Some people may criticize me, a citizen of a third country for self-burning in protest, but I sternly believed that those who long for the real peace in Vietnam and all over the world will not consider my death as being in vain.

Letter written by Mr. Jui Cunosin before his death.Part 3- Agent Orange’s ChildrenDisability created through warMost of us have heard about Agent Orange’s dark history. The children of Agent Orange live a stigmatized life today. But not to be pitied. Their countless stories are told through these portraits Including Nguyen Hoang Phuc. An accomplished flute player born without eyes, age 13

The 100’s of Agent Orange portraits demand attention. To acknowledge their injustices and retell history beyond what the media has chosen to share with us.

a photograph of a boy playing a recorder

Nguyen Hoang Phuc, age 13

a photograph of 5 men

A sign below the photograph of the woman and four boys states that they were affected by Agent Orange

a photo of a museum sign
In the war of aggression in Vietnam, the US not nay used conventional bombs and armaments, but also chemical weapons to whip out surrounding natural resources and prevent the forward march of the Liberation Army of South Vietnam. In the 10 years from 1961-1971, toxic rains poured down continuously on Central and South Vietnam, defoliating mountains, plains and crops, destroying clean water resources and upsetting the delicate ecological balance.
According to the US Defence Department date, from 1961-1971, the US Air Froce sprayed 72 millions litres of toxic chemicals of various types of Veitnam, including 44 million litres of Agent Orange containing 170 kg of dioxin. In a study by scientists at Columbia University (New York) published in Nature magazine, the total volume of toxic chemical stat the US sprayed over Vietnam amounted to approximately 100 million litres and the content of dioxin reported was double that previously announced figures. According to the study, 3,851 communes suffered direct chemical spraying and the chemical directly affected between 2.1 and 4.8 million Vietnamese people.

Operation Ranch Hand, sprayed more than 72 million litres of herbicides over 4.5 million acres of land in Vietnam from 1961 to 1971. The soldiers did this to destroy forest coverage of the enemy. The chemical dioxin was the most toxic.

Canada is not innocent. According to militaryhistorynow.com, Canada supplied the U.S with 2.5 billion dollars of war materials and Agent Orange. Even though public opinion was against the war.

a boy sitting in a wheel chair. He is missing a leg and arm

a photograph of a mass grave

a photograph of a destroyed forest

To Sum It UpAgent Orange:

– 400,000 maimed or killed
– 500,000 children born with serious defects
– 2 million people living with cancer or another illness

(Not to mention the psychological, mental impact and damage to the environment) Fast forward 30 years…… 1995

a sign outlining Bill Clinton's decision to create positive relations with Vietnam

An American politician with a good ideaAnother 20 years later ………. 2015Now, 20 years later there exists a disability studies program.

A discipline that challenges society’s dehumanizing, categorization of disabled people.
And within this program students from all intersections of life are capable of forming an impetus for change.

2015: Time for a new Passion, Action, Vision

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