Volume #21 - 571.|
Le commissaire de la Commission internationale de surveillance|
pour le Vietnamau secrétaire d'État aux Affaires extérieures
le 6 janvier 1955|
FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT1 |
Reference: Our despatch No. 289 of December 27? and para 7 of our telegram No. 220 of December 2, 1954.?
The purpose of this message is to give you our preliminary thoughts on this question and to suggest a plan of action for solving what is a most unsatisfactory situation. I should like to receive from you as soon as possible your views on the action which we might take here.
A. Review of Evidence
2. Examination of the reports of the mobile teams which conducted investigations with respect to freedom of movement in several provinces indicates that the Commission would be on firm ground in recommending to the Democratic Republic authorities that the whole permit procedure be made more effective. The general picture to be obtained from the conclusions of the various teams is that the procedure is cumbersome and ineffective insofar as it should facilitate the movement of people wishing to go south, that more permit offices are required, and that would-be evacuees, due to fear of reprisals, are reluctant to approach their communal authorities from whom they must obtain the initial letter of recommendation. Moreover, a letter from the Democratic Republic about the permit procedure suggests that there are some political texts in the granting of a permit. The reports from the teams also indicate that some permit offices at least may not be properly equipped to issue any large number of permits, that the administrative procedures are in some respects incomplete, and that there has been some apparent obstruction in their enquiries and some evidence that people wishing to see teams about going to the south are hindered from doing so. However, on the basis of our first examination of these reports I fear there might not be sufficient grounds for establishing conclusively at least in the Commission, that there has been a definite violation of the agreement by the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam on the permit procedure itself. This, however, is only part of the problem. There is practically no evidence that aid of any kind has been provided as the Democratic Republic authorities are required to do under the agreement and this, coupled with a procedure which implies a practical refusal to allow freedom of movement, creates a very strong presumption of non-compliance on their part. While the proof may not be fully convincing to the Poles and perhaps to the Indians in the Commission, before Western opinion and possibly the rest of South East Asia, the evidence which could be adduced would, in my opinion, probably carry general conviction. As it is possible that we may later have to refer the matter to the Geneva powers this, I think, is a significant point to bear in mind when examining the evidence available.
3. As you know, the Commission has also received through petitions a fund of detailed allegations against the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam about police and military obstruction to freedom of movement and to freedom of access to fixed and mobile teams. To some extent these petitions are offset by the larger volume of petitions which complain about the spreading false rumours and other forms of intimidation to force people to go to the south. These latter petitions are, of course, of great importance to the Polish Delegation, and they appear to have had some influence on the Indian Delegation. It is clear, however, that these latter petitions are in the nature of counter-claims and should not be allowed to confuse the main issue which must be dealt with first, e.g. whether or not people have been allowed to move. Why they wish to move, is another problem which we will have to insist, must be dealt with separately. I believe it might be possible for us to get Indian support on this point.
4. The reports from the teams, together with certain other relevant material, have been referred to the Freedoms Committee for a study of the general question of freedom of movement in North Viet Nam. It is expected that the committee may report soon after the middle of the month, when the Chairman and the Polish Ambassador will return to Hanoi. It seems likely, therefore, that a most important debate will arise in the Commission later this month. We have been giving some thought to the possible outcome of this debate and to the difficulties that may arise in endeavouring to obtain a sufficiently strong recommendation to both sides that, within a specified time limit - in view of the short time remaining before the expiration of the 300 days2 - a fair, reasonable and effective exit permit procedure in both north and south should be established and that its application should be supervised by the Commission so that it can satisfy itself that the recommendation is in fact carried out.
5. My own view is that if the Commission addressed the recommendation also to the south at the same time, such complementary action might be conducive to obtaining more cooperation from both sides and we would be on sound ground in recommending to both sides steps which can be considered to be necessary for the effective implementation of Article 14(d) at this stage. Such an approach would involve the additional advantage that it might be easier for us to carry the Chairman with us. The Commission, in making its recommendation to the parties should indicate that it is seriously disturbed by current procedures, that reforms are urgently required and that no pressure to induce people to move or to stay in either zone should be exercised. Although the letter could not say that the Commission will check whether the recommendation is implemented, I feel that if a reasonable recommendation is put forward in a sufficiently strong manner, it will be quite clear that if compliance with it is not prompt and whole-hearted there will be further action by the Commission. The implication would be that the question might have to be referred to the Geneva powers. While at this stage no reference should be made in the letter to a report to the Geneva powers, I feel that we might attempt to secure agreement within the Commission that if the recommendation is not implemented within the time specified and if there was to be found reasonable evidence of non-compliance by either party, in view of the short time which would then be left before the end of the 300 day period, a report would have to be submitted forthwith to the Geneva powers without granting either party further delays for taking more effective or corrective steps. Such action would of course depend on the prospect of Indian support. Furthermore when the recommendation is made, I think we might suggest that the Commission call formally as a body on the Foreign Minister or Giap in the north and on the French High Command in the south to emphasize its importance and to stress the urgency of quick and adequate action being taken if the provisions of the agreement concerning freedom of movement are to be carried out within the time specified.
6. In view of the above, it seems to me that, in the first instance, the recommendation we should seek in the Commission about freedom of movement should recognize that the implementation must be left to the parties but that arrangements must be such that the Commission can effectively exercise control and supervision. The recommendation should cover the following points:
(a) permit offices empowered to issue permits to go and live in the other zone should be established in each district,
(b) all that an applicant would need to prove in order to obtain a permit would be that he had paid his normal taxes and no judicial proceedings were pending against him. No political or security tests whatever should be applied. On the other hand, there should be no intimidation, threats or coercion to induce people to move to the other zone,
(c) the permit should be valid until the end of the 300 day period. In the north, to go to Haiphong perimeter or to any point of embarcation, in the south, to go to Saigon or any point of embarcation,
(d) the permit should be made valid for whole families including unmarried children and relatives,
(e) heads of districts, villages or communes should be instructed to authorize meetings so that heads of families can discuss their plans freely,
(f) there should be no undue currency restrictions and no confiscation of property,
(g) aid should be provided in the form of food, transportation and medicaments when necessary, temporary shelters should also be arranged,
(h) these arrangements should be worked out within two to the three weeks at most.
(i) The recommended procedure should be given the widest possible publicity.
7. In order to enable the International Commission to exercise effective control, the following two points should be covered:
(a) each party should be required to provide bi-monthly returns of the people they have authorized and assisted to go to the other zone,
(b) mobile teams of the International Commission should visit some of the districts in which exit permit offices have been established, these teams should actively supervise the issuing of permits and the provision of assistance to those people who request help from the local authorities in order to go to another zone.
8. It is probable that some of the suggestions made in paragraphs 6 and 7 above may turn out to be impractical or unacceptable to the Commission or to the parties. These are matters for negotiation, but the essential point is that the procedure should be the same in both zones, simple and effective, there should be no pressure and the Commission should have an opportunity to control effectively its implementation.
9. Two main difficulties will arise in obtaining a recommendation suitable to all three delegations. Although the Chairman has given indications that he might on this issue take a strong stand, it is not unlikely that in accordance with his usual policy, he will wish the recommendation to be, from our point of view, unduly moderate so that it will not seriously embarrass the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam. In the light of the Commission's difficulties in getting full cooperation in the south it is clear that the Commission cannot only take the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam to task. Secondly the Polish Delegation although they may well agree to the principle of issuing a recommendation, will wish to make it excessively innocuous and to relate it to Article 14(c). Depending on the evidence submitted by the mobile teams which are investigating incidents in the south consideration might be given to a broader recommendation covering the whole of Article 14.
10. If the Indians refuse to endorse an adequate recommendation, we will find ourselves in a delicate position. The issue being a very important one, I should appreciate receiving your further guidance as to how far we should go in pressing for what we will consider a satisfactory solution and whether, failing to receive Indian support for this, we should press for a vote even if we are likely to find ourselves in a minority.
C. Control of Implementation
11. A recommendation from the Commission is, of course, only a first step. While the Geneva Agreement does not specifically require the Commission to follow up its recommendations, I think it is obviously necessary for the Commission to treat these recommendations in the same way as it treats the articles of the Geneva Agreement. Through its supervision and control the Commission must ensure that these recommendations are implemented. Assuming that the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam accepts the recommendation we will have to ensure, therefore, that appropriate follow-up action is taken.
12. If the Democratic Republic refuse to accept the recommendation this would, of course, be a very serious matter and would require a report to the Geneva Conference. The Democratic Republic of Viet Nam of course might accept the recommendation and express determination to carry it out, although in fact doing virtually nothing about it. Judging the performance of the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam would probably involve much the same problems of investigation and assessment as has already taken place with respect to freedom of movement. It would be as difficult to prove a violation of the agreement as it is on the basis of current evidence. If there were suddenly a rapid and significant increase in the number of permits issued and in the number of evacuees reaching the Haiphong perimeter, there would seem to be no doubt that the Democratic Republic had implemented the recommendation. However, if there were no increase in the flow of evacuees that in itself I do not think would be sufficient evidence on which to charge the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam that it had not implemented the recommendation. The Commission would have to find further evidence that the permit procedure was not working and that would-be evacuees were being denied freedom of movement. By the time a violation might be proved, the 300 day period would probably have expired (May 18).
13. If it became apparent that the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam were not implementing the recommendation after they had accepted it, the logical step, it seems to us at this stage, would appear to be a reference to the Geneva Conference. Should the Indians and Poles resist this action, the question of a split vote might again arise. In such circumstances, we would be faced also with a very difficult position. However, owing to the difficulties of proving a violation, it seems to me to be much more likely that the Commission could more easily agree to publicly explain its problem. This might be accomplished by inducing the Commission to make a further interim report of the Commission's activities to the co-chairmen. Such a procedure would have the advantage of disclosing to the co-chairmen and exposing to the world at large the efforts of the Commission to assist both sides in implementing the Geneva Agreement. The Commission might consider the issuance of this report within a fairly short period of time, perhaps immediately after its recommendation concerning freedom of movement is submitted to both parties. This would also provide an opportunity to acquaint the co-chairmen with the arrangements made since the first interim report to exercise closer supervision of the implementation of the military articles 15, 16, 17 and 18. From our particular point of view such an early report would make it easier for us, should there be indications that either party was not carrying out the recommendation
(a) to insist on the issue being brought to a vote if the Indians support us
(b) should the Indians hesitate to support us, then on the preparation of a further report to the co-chairmen.
14. I have already explained that if we try to obtain the type of recommendation which I consider necessary, there may well be a rather difficult debate. I have also indicated that it will likely be very difficult to obtain sufficient evidence to say that the Democratic Republic have not implemented a new recommendation. In both cases the outcome of the discussion will largely depend on the attitude of the Indian Delegation. While the ground might be prepared to some extent by a preliminary and informal approach here to the chairman it occurs to me that when the Commission reaches the stage of considering its recommendation the Canadian Government might see fit to approach the Indian authorities to impress upon them the importance we attach to the issuance of a strong recommendation and more particularly with the point that action should be taken quickly either to report a violation to the Geneva powers or at least to inform the co-chairmen of reluctance on the part of either party to carry it out in an effective and determined manner.
15. The whole issue is going to be one of timing and one of determining reluctance on the part of either side to carry out quickly the recommendation. It will not be easy to decide at what exact stage evidence will be adequate or to get our colleagues, and particularly the Indians, to agree on the nature of the evidence. If the Indians as hitherto intend to proceed step by step awaiting additional evidence before agreeing to another move, avoiding any suggestion which might involve embarrassment to the Democratic Republic authorities I fear that it will not be possible to compel the parties to take effective action before the end of the 300 day period. The Indians must, therefore, somehow, be persuaded to support a strong line or we must face the unpleasant choice of either joining them and the Poles in condoning what will amount to a violation of the agreement or of taking the risk of having to submit minority reports based on such evidence as is available either on this recommendation or on its implementation.
16. Your instructions are urgently required.