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Thursday, January 16, 2020, 15:35 (GMT+7)
Đồng Khởi Movement - a symbol of national great unity strength in the Ho Chi Minh era

When he was alive, President Ho Chi Minh attributed the invincible strength and all successes to unity, adding that “unity is an invincible force enabling us to overcome difficulties and earn victories,” and that “unity, unity, great unity; success, success, great success.” To liberate the nation, the working class, and the people, only patriotism is not enough; as a result, to make the revolution successful and “completely successful,” there should be a revolutionary force whose mental strength is built up by a sense of unity. “Unity gives us strength. With a strong sense of unity, we will certainly surmount all difficulties, bring into play all advantages, and fulfil all of our missions assigned by our people.” National great unity is a primary target and task of our revolution which have been mentioned in all guidelines by the Party and all policies and laws by the State.

Immediately after the Geneva Accords (1954) became effective, the U.S. quickly alternated France in South Vietnam with new-style colonialism, established a lackey government headed by Ngo Dinh Diem, and carried out many bloody massacres in Cu Chi, Mo Cay, and Cam Lo. At the same time, they slaughtered communists and removed communist ideology and organisation with the campaign entitled “denounce and kill the communists” and particularly the Law 10/59. In early 1959, stating that “South Vietnam is in the state of war,” US Imperialists and lackey government used force without mercy to imprison and kill the people. Those moves by the enemy increased the seriousness of the situation in the South; local party committees, cadres, and party members were expecting our Party to set out the revolutionary path and guidelines for them to rise up and seize power.

To meet the people’s aspirations and the revolution’s demands, in January 1959, the Party Central Committee’s 15th (open) Plenum assessed the situation within our country since the signing of the Geneva Accords and set out the revolutionary task and guidelines of the whole country and the South. At the Plenum, our Party stated that “the basic direction for the Vietnamese revolution in the South is to conduct the people’s uprising to seize power. Based on the specific situation and the current revolutionary requirements, to realise that direction, we must rely on the masses’ strength and political force as the main in association with the armed forces to overthrow the dominion of imperialism and feudalism and establish a revolutionary government of the people.” That could be seen as an important, comprehensive revolutionary direction which both opportunely met the people’s aspirations and made a leap in the South’s revolutionary movement.

Although the Party Central Committee’s Resolution No.15 was officially passed in May 1959, due to the urgency of the situation, local party committees, cadres, and party members had grasped the development of the revolution and bravely encouraged the masses in some favourable places to rise up and regain power. When the Resolution No.15 was introduced to the provinces in the Zone 5 and the South, it brought a new fighting spirit, satisfied the burning desire of cadres, party members, and the people, fanned and spread the lingering revolutionary flame across the South, from rural and mountainous areas to urban areas, and created the strength of national great unity against the aggressors. When comprehending the core points of the Resolution No.15, some localities in the Mekong Delta region stepped up their armed operations and inflicted heavy losses on the enemy. Notably, the battle of Giong Thi Dam - Go Quan Cung (September 26th 1959) strengthened and encouraged the masses’ faith and fighting morale and raised our revolution’s prestige. Since the victory of this battle, our armed movement in Southern provinces occurred continuously and intensely, which opened up the opportunity for uprisings in many areas, particularly in the South. Following the favourable developments of the revolution, in November 1959, the Central Office for South Vietnam summoned the 4th Plenum to set out the basic missions; in the short term, it would maintain and step up the masses’ revolutionary movement, and take the masses’ widespread and strong political struggle as the main in association with the military movement against the U.S.-Diem Administration’s policy to destroy, exploit, ransack, and colonise the South and against their act of war. At the same time, it would prevent and gradually thwart all strategies by the enemy and push them into the passive and isolated political situation as the basis for toppling the U.S.-Diem Administration, accomplishing the people’s democratic national revolution, establishing peace, and unifying the country.

Being introduced to party cells and organisations, the Resolution No.4 by the Central Office for South Vietnam and the Resolution No.15 by the Party Central Committee fanned the flame of uprising in the South and created a revolutionary movement at the highest level and huge changes on the battlefield. After the 4th Plenum by the Central Office for South Vietnam, the Inter-Provincial Central Southern Party Committee’s Conference (including the provinces of Long An, My Tho, Go Cong, Ben Tre, Kien Tuong, Kien Long, and An Giang) was held. According to the conclusion of the Conference, “the provinces bordering the base of Dong Thap Muoi would combine political struggle with armed struggle, assist the people in rising up and regaining control of hamlets and villages, while expanding guerrilla bases, building armed forces, and preparing for simultaneous uprisings. For the provinces under the enemy’s complete control, it is imperative to organise and build the political force and the armed forces, and further annihilate the enemy in support for uprisings.” In January 1960, the Inter-Provincial Party Committee decided to launch the masses’ uprisings at hamlets and villages, emphasising that “we shall conduct uprisings across the region so that the enemy would be unable to repress our uprisings. It is a must for us to encourage a large number of the masses to rise up and fight the enemy, but we shall maintain the legitimacy of our struggle. Armed activities must be clever and avoid relying on armed struggle merely.”

Following the Resolution of the Inter-Provincial Central Southern Party Committee’s Conference, the Provincial Party Committee of Ben Tre decided to launch a week of “all-people uprising” aimed at breaking the enemy’s dominion and build a revolutionary government. The Party Organisation and people of Ben Tre province quickly thoroughly grasped the Resolution to create the highest ever revolutionary spirit. The all-people uprising commenced on January 17th 1960, in the communes of Dinh Thuy, Binh Khanh, and Phuoc Hiep, the district of Mo Cay, and it quickly spread across the district and the province of Ben Tre. Victory of the Đồng Khởi Movement (Ben Tre province, 1960) destroyed the enemy’s dominion and opened up a new revolutionary movement of the revolution in the South, from defensive posture to maintain our force to offensive and constant offensive to win victories. It also proved that thanks to the Resolution, the Đồng Khởi Movement was carried out in accordance with the content and nature of an uprising. The reason is that before Đồng Khởi, there had been several armed uprisings in some regions; however, they had not maintained or expanded the areas, or eliminated the enemy’s rule. The victory of the Đồng Khởi Movement in Ben Tre province clearly expresses the strength of national great unity and proves that no matter how strong the enemy is, they could not defeat the national great unity block under the Party’s leadership.

Together with Ben Tre, following the Resolution by the Inter-Provincial Central South Party Committee, other provinces launched the masses’ uprisings to annihilate the enemy and gain control of rural areas. Notably, the victory of Tua Hai battle (January 1960) gave a signal for other uprisings to take place concurrently within Tay Ninh province and across the Southeast region.  The enemy’s governmental system in villages, hamlets, and communes was paralysed, the liberated areas were established and connected among districts and provinces, within those liberated areas, the right to mastery completely belonged to the people with the birth of the people’s governments. According to comrade Le Duan, “in fact, it could be seen as a tidal wave of uprisings by the masses. Such partial uprisings resulted from the masses’ durable, drastic political struggle or a wide and deep movement which occurred in a series of communes, districts, and provinces.”

The victory of Đồng Khởi Movement demonstrates the Vietnamese people’s passionate patriotic tradition and the sound leadership by the Workers Party of Vietnam. This vividly depicts the strength of national great unity block in the Ho Chi Minh era. Under the Resolution No.15, adopting extremely diverse and creative methods of uprising, the Southern people rose up as one to overthrow a series of the enemy’s governments in communes, hamlets, and villages. The Đồng Khởi Movement created a favourable condition for restoring the Southern Party Organisation, establishing the three-category armed forces and the military command system at all levels, and recovering and expanding the revolutionary bases. At the same time, it dealt a blow to the Eisenhower strategy and defeated a typical form of dominion of the US new-style colonialism.

The lessons on promoting the strength of national great unity in the Đồng Khởi Movement which took place 60 years ago remain valid and should continue to be developed and creatively applied to reality, particularly when the country has been widely and deeply integrating into the world, in order to bring into play the entire nation’s strength to the utmost, combine the nation’s strength with the strength of the times, and successfully fulfil the goal of industrialisation and mondernisation, for the sake of “rich people, strong nation, and democratic, equitable, civilised society.”

Sr. Col. Truong Mai Huong, PhD, The Military History Institute of Vietnam

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