COMMITTEE FOR A FREE ASIA (KOMMITTÈN FÖR ETT FRITT ASIEN) – DEFENDING FREEDOM IN VIETNAM 1965 TO 1975

As in the United States the Vietnam War coincided with the rise of the so called New Left in Sweden and extreme leftist ideas were an important theme in the pro-Hanoi activities in the Swedish context as well.

The pro-Hanoi street demonstrations in Europe evolved into a violent terrorist struggle from which a number of terrorist organizations emerged like the Baader-Meinhof Gang (Rote Armee Fraktion) in West Germany and similar terrorist groups in France, England, and Italy.

Sweden was (and is) a special case. At the beginning of the increased American military and civilian support for South Vietnam the government in Stockholm was led by moderate social democrats. After Olof Palme took over as prime minister,an ”anti-imperialist” and anti-American course became even more radical. The Swedish government willingly provided the regimes in Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Angola, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, Ethiopia, Somalia and not least North Vietnam with extensive aid, although these regimes were communist or pro-Soviet.

The radical revolutionary rhetoric, demonstrations and left-wing action was a real threat to democracy in Europe, including the huge and violent demonstrations in France in 1968.

Personally I left the University of Lund in southern Sweden with a Master of Law-degree in 1965 to start my legal career. As I had been involved in campus politics at the University of Lund I simply continued into the counter-leftist scene in Sweden’s capital of Stockholm. There has always been a strong undercurrent of conservatism in the capital. It was possible, with original help from anticommunist Estonian and Latvian exile groups, which were already strongly organized, to set up the Committee for a Free Asia (with several local committees) in 1965 in support of the South Vietnamese government and American aid to that government.

Flyers, leaflets and other printed material plus campaign buttons were produced. Buttons and material were distributed on the streets of Stockholm mainly on Saturdays during shopping hours and in connection with leftist pro-Hanoi demonstrations.

I was invited to appear on radio and TV and took part in numerous debates with left-wingers on the wars in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.

After a couple of years the controversy became more heated. By summer 1967 a Scandinavian delegation was organized to visit South Vietnam consisting of Danes, Norwegians and Swedes with me as delegation chief. We met with Chief of State Nguyen Van Thieu, administration officials and travelled around South Vietnam between the Mekong delta and Hue. Later I made two trips to Vietnam in 1969 and in 1971 plus visits to Thailand and the Republic of China.

In Sweden the government had diplomatically recognised the Hanoi regime and had no diplomatic ties with Saigon. An information bureau was set up in Stockholm by the Republic of Vietnam organized by The Vietnam Council on Foreign Affairs, P.O. Box 932, Saigon (President of the council was Honorable Tran Van Lam, foreign minister of the Republic of Vietnam), which greatly aided our work. Meanwhile the pro-Hanoi movement grew in Sweden. Naturally all embassies of the Soviet bloc in Stockholm were involved in aiding Hanoi. The Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme demonstrated with the North Vietnamese ambassador on the streets of Stockholm and made verbal attacks on the United States comparing it with Hitler’s Germany. In the beginning of the 1970s leftist organizations to support Hanoi and the insurgents in South Vietnam, the latter being controlled by the North Vietnamese regime.

 

An excerpt from the political memoirs of Swedish author Bertil Haggman (“Swedish Center-Right Anticommunism 1963 – 1991- Notes by a Participant”, Kindle Direct Publishing, 2015).

One Response to “COMMITTEE FOR A FREE ASIA (KOMMITTÈN FÖR ETT FRITT ASIEN) – DEFENDING FREEDOM IN VIETNAM 1965 TO 1975”

  1. Båtflyktning Says:

    Reblogged this on Vietnamkrigen.

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