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Saigon - Cholon and Gia Dinh in the General Insurrection - the August Revolution

After the Cochinchina Uprising in late 1940, the French Colonialists mounted campaigns of terror against our revolutionary movement with brutal killings. Most of cadres of the regional and local party committees, including those who lived and worked in Saigon - Cholon and Gia Dinh were arrested or annihilated or lost contact with their organisations. Against those losses and enormous difficulties, loyal communists continued their struggle, persistently mobilised the masses, and rebuilt the force with the aim of “staging a bigger fight” to seize power. Due to the situation at that time, within the Cochinchina Regional Party Committee, there were two party organisation systems, namely “Tien Phong” (Vanguard) and “Giai Phong” (Liberation). The Provincial Party Organisation of Gia Dinh under the “Giai Phong” system developed national salvation unions and built national salvation self-defence teams in rural and peri-urban areas. In late 1943, the Regional Party Committee of “Tien Phong” reorganised the Party Organisation of Saigon - Cholon and established the Municipal Personnel Commission headed by Secretary of the Regional Party Committee Tran Van Giau. The Party Organisation determinedly “raced against time” to build the revolutionary force and develop a “red belt” in the peri-urban areas in preparation for a General Insurrection. Notably, while other patriotic organisations had to operate in secret, the Vanguard Youth Force established by the “Tien Phong” Regional Party Committee took advantage of its legal operation to mobilise young people in its patriotic movement. After 3 months only, Saigon had 200,000 members, 120,000 of them frequently attended military training courses awaiting an uprising. Those forces’ operation was the precondition for the formation of the armed forces of Saigon - Gia Dinh later on.

Party organisations persistently deeply penetrated the life of people from all social strata, conducted propagation, aroused patriotism, and launched many patriotic movements in both rural and urban areas. Movements for reducing taxation and public debts and fighting against conscription by peasants as well as demonstrations calling for raising wages, cutting work hours, and combating worker abuse by workers took place constantly. Students wrote patriotic songs, plays, and Vietnamese folk operas (tuồng), such as Youth’s call and Dien Hong Conference. The Scouting Movement amongst students in Saigon robustly developed. The sports and gymnastics movement under the spirit of “fitness for the country” was aimed at improving health, mentality, and will and arousing patriotism and national pride. Those movements were combined with the rebuilding of the Party Organisation’s force as the basis for pre-uprising revolutionary movements towards the August General Insurrection of 1945.

Grasping the Directive titled “Shooting between Japan and France and our actions,” being fully aware that “with the support from rural areas, the uprising must win a victory in Saigon first,” the Regional Party Committee, the Municipal Party Committee of Saigon and the Provincial Party Committee of Gia Dinh directly led the people to conduct the uprising and seize power in Saigon. On August 15th, 1945, the “Tien Phong” Regional Party Committee founded the Uprising Committee. On August 23rd, Tan An carried out a revolt to probe Japan’s reaction and was successful. Thus, the Cochinchina Regional Party Committee decided that Saigon would stage an uprising on the night of August 24th. Since that night, the revolutionary masses of Saigon - Cholon, Gia Dinh, Tan Binh, My Tho and Bien Hoa, including armed workers, peasants and young people rumbled towards Saigon to join the uprising. The uprising’s forces attacked and controlled the Police Department, the Railway Station, the Post Office, posts, and the Cochinchina Governor’s Palace, however faced the enemy’s weak resistance. On the morning of August 25th, 1945, like a sea of people, about a million citizens of Saigon gathered with flags and banners in the city’s central areas, such as the Opera House and the Ong Thuong Garden, chanting: “a completely independent Vietnam,” “all governments belong to the Viet Minh,” “long live the Vietnam Front,” “independence or die.” Red flags with golden star and flags with hammer and sickle flew over streets and offices.

Citizens of Saigon joining demonstrations to seize power (file photo)

The uprising in Saigon - Cholon and Gia Dinh province was completely successful under the Party’s leadership, without any bloodshed. The victory resulted from the Cochinchina Regional Party Committee’s assertiveness, creativity and capacity to seize the opportunity. It was also a brilliant feat of arms by all people of Saigon - Cholon and Gia Dinh. Within 4 days, from August 25th, 1945 to August 28th, 1945, other provinces in the South rose up to seize power consecutively. On September 2nd, 1945, at Ba Dinh Square, Hanoi, on behalf of the Provisional Government, President Ho Chi Minh solemnly read the Declaration of Independence in front of the people, announcing the success of the August Revolution and the birth of the People’s Democratic Republic of Vietnam. At that time, although Saigon - Gia Dinh were unable to receive radio waves from the Voice of Vietnam, the Cochinchina Provisional Administration Committee quickly prepared and delivered a speech to replace the Declaration of Independence presented by President Ho Chi Minh at Ba Dinh, Hanoi. The victory of the 1945 August Revolution marked a milestone and a huge change in the course of Vietnamese history, smashed the yoke of colonialism that had existed over 80 years, and brought our nation to a new era of national independence and socialism.

The spirit, significance and value of the August Revolution have built up an enormous source of strength for the Municipal Party Organisation, people and armed forces to protect and develop Ho Chi Minh city into a municipality of special importance to the whole country. To that end, the municipal armed forces should well implement several main measures as follows.

First of all, emphasis should be placed on advising the Municipal Party Committee and People’s Committee to build a solid defensive zone and maintain political stability and social order and safety as the basis for the city’s rapid, sustainable development. The Municipal Military Party Committee and Command should continue giving advice to the Municipal Party Committee and People’s Committee on building the defensive zone under the 10th Politburo’s Resolution 28-NQ/TW and the Government’s Decree 21/2019/NĐ-CP, dated February 22nd, 2019. Doing so will enable the city to improve its defensive zone’s potential and posture and its defensive capacity within the general posture of the Military Region 7 and the whole country. In this regard, great value should be attached to building the politico-spiritual potential. Military offices at all levels should promote their core role in defence and security education under the Politburo’s Directive 12-CT/TW, dated May 3rd, 2007. Due attention should be paid to well performing the mass mobilisation work and implementing the policies for the Army Rear and people with meritorious service to the Revolution in order to gradually cement the people’s faith in our Party, State and regime and build a firm “posture of people’s hearts and minds.” The municipal armed forces should closely cooperate with competent offices in proactively fighting to thwart all plots and acts of sabotage by hostile forces, readily responding to non-traditional security challenges, and maintaining political stability and social order and safety so as to create a favourable condition for the city’s development.

To meet the requirements set by the Homeland protection, it is necessary to make the municipal armed forces “revolutionary, regular, seasoned, gradually modern,” and politically, ideologically, organisationally strong as a loyal, reliable army of party committees, authorities and citizens. Military offices and units should frequently well carry out the work of political education, manage and opportunely orientate troops and citizens’ ideology against complex issues. Consideration should be given to enhancing party organisations’ leadership capacity and combativeness. In the medium term, the Municipal Military Party Committee Standing Board and Command should concentrate on raising the quality of documents for party congresses and making personnel preparation for a new party committee in line with the building of key cadres at all levels. In the long term, the municipal armed forces are resolved to build a contingent of cadres with good political qualities, morality, lifestyle, knowledge, and working method to meet the task requirements in the new period.

In addition, the municipal armed forces should keep raising their synergy and combat strength. Standing units should be made “compact and strong” in accordance with their task requirements. Due regard should be paid to building a really “powerful” reserve force and a “strong, extensive” militia and self-defence force. Units should place emphasis on renewing and improving the training work, adhering to the training motto of “basics, practicality and thorough grasp,” and training their troops to master the existing weapons and technical equipment as well as newly-acquired ones. Besides, they should closely combine military training with standard order building and discipline management, while stringently maintaining the order for combat readiness duty at all levels. Training courses and exercises must be associated with the projects for combat in the area, for riot and terrorism prevention and control as well as for civilian defence. Last but not least, all-level military offices should focus on giving sound advice to party committees and authorities on the military-defence work and state management of national defence.

To meet the increasingly higher requirements set by the Homeland construction and protection, the Party Organisation, armed forces and people of Ho Chi Minh city will continue promoting the spirit of the August Revolution to surmount all difficulties and hardships, well perform the military-defence task, and build the all-people national defence as the basis for developing the city to a new height.

Maj. Gen. NGUYEN VAN NAM, Member of the Municipal Party Committee Standing Board, Commander of the Military Command of Ho Chi Minh City

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