Our Second Century of Lay Apostolate
April 24, 1975
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Eyewitness reports reaching the State Department and the White House in recent weeks indicate that massive “liquidation” is taking place behind Communist lines in South Vietnam, a slaughter in which Roman Catholic priests and bishops are among the targets.
At Ban Me Thuot, for example, the Viet Cong (VC) established a “public tribunal” which immediately summoned the local Catholic bishop and two priests. The three men were executed without further ado, shot in the back of the head. All of the area’s school teachers, 450 men and women were taken out of town and executed.
At Phanrang the bishop and five of his priests were executed in the marketplace. All non-commissioned officers and civil servants were killed as well, while the city’s police were beheaded.
(A Vatican spokesman earlier confirmed that the two bishops had been taken prisoner but could not confirm that they had been executed.)
In Hue the executions have gone beyond policemen and police cadets to include even the mailmen.
In Phuoc Long, one of the first towns captured in the current offensive, the Communists have executed every doctor, teacher and dentist, not to mention the civil servants, police, and the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) prisoners. The town’s one hotel was turned into a prison, where a “public tribunal” was established. The “tribunal” sentenced to summary execution groups of 100 to 150 people at a time. The source of this information is a refugee woman who worked as a book- keeper at the hotel and who escaped from incarceration there.
A report from Saigon, received by the Administration on April 2nd, consists of interviews with refugees from Danang. These refugees had witnessed executions carried out by the Viet Cong. They said that North Vietnamese regular troops, however, did not take part in the atrocities. The Danang refugees concluded that VC local forces seemed to be pursuing a systematic plan to liquidate persons who had been connected in any way with the security personnel of the South Vietnamese government. Thus, the Danang executions included the beheading of policemen, while ARVN prisoners of war were tied together in groups with wire and a grenade was then thrown into the middle of each group.
An April 11th dispatch from Saigon, including more first- person interviews, reported similar atrocities from many parts of the Central Highlands. A column of over 100,000 civilian refugees, in the process of crossing a pontoon bridge near Pliau, was fired upon by the Communists from three sides. At Phu Sen, ARVN soldiers captured at Phu Thuoc were held for detention. But rather than leave guards to watch them the North Vietnamese regulars shot the prisoners through feet so they couldn’t run away.
The content of these and other explosive reports are being hushed up by the Administration, according to one Capital Hill source, in order to prevent public opinion from becoming aroused and generating further pressure for the United States to help evacuate and settle the millions of refugees already created. However, a good portion of this information is presently in the hands of Sen. Jesse Helms (R., N.C.), who is expected to divulge it at a press conference within the next few days.