Proclamation of Independence of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam
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The Proclamation of Independence of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (Vietnamese: Tuyên ngôn độc lập Việt Nam Dân chủ Cộng hòa) was written by Hồ Chí Minh, and announced in public at the Ba Đình flower garden (now the Ba Đình Square) on September 2, 1945. It led to the independence of Vietnam.
Vietnam became a colony of France in the late 19th century, but during World War II, Japan occupied Vietnam. During this period the Viet Minh fought a guerrilla war against the Japanese and were to a degree supported by the Americans in 1945 via the Office of Strategic Services.
On August 22, 1945 the OSS agent Archimedes Patti, who had previously met Ho Chi Minh in Southern China arrived in Hanoi on a mercy mission to liberate allied POWs and were accompanied by Jean Sainteny a French government official. The Japanese forces informally surrendered (the official surrender took place on Sept. 2, 1945 in Tokyo Bay) but being the only force capable of maintaining law and order the Japanese Imperial Army remained in power while keeping French colonial troops detained.
Japanese forces allowed the Việt Minh and other nationalist groups to take over public buildings and weapons without resistance, which began the August Revolution. On the morning of August 26, 1945, at No. 48 Hàng Ngang, Hà Nội, chairman Hồ Chí Minh had called and presided over the meeting of the Central Standing Communist Party of Vietnam. In the decisions made at this meeting, the Standing unanimously prepared to proclaim independence and organized a large meeting in Hà Nội for the Provisional Government to present itself to the people, also the day that Vietnam officially promulgated the right of freedom and established the democratic republic system.
On August 30, 1945, Hồ Chí Minh invited several people to contribute their ideas toward his Proclamation of Independence. OSS officers met repeatedly with Ho Chi Minh and other Viet Minh officers during late August and Archimedes Patti claims to have listened to Ho read to him a draft of the Proclamation which he believed sounded very similar to the American Declaration of Independence.
On September 2, 1945, Hồ Chí Minh read the Proclamation during a public meeting in front of thousands of people, at what is now Ba Đình Square, Hà Nội, announcing the birth of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the country's independence from France.
Compatriots of the entire nation assembled:
All men are created equal; they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights; among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.
This immortal statement was made in the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America in 1776. In a broader sense, this means: All the peoples on the earth are equal from birth, all the peoples have a right to live, to be happy and free.
The Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen of the French Revolution made in 1791 also states: All men are born free and with equal rights, and must always remain free and have equal rights.
Those are undeniable truths.
Nevertheless, for more than eighty years, the French imperialists, in the name of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity, have violated our Fatherland and oppressed our fellow citizens. They have acted contrary to the ideals of humanity and justice.
In the field of politics, they have deprived our people of every democratic liberty.
They have enforced inhuman laws; they have set up three distinct political regimes in the North, Center, and South of Vietnam in order to destroy our national unity and prevent our people from being united.
They have built more prisons than schools. They have mercilessly slaughtered our patriots; they have drowned our uprisings in bloodbaths.
They have fettered public opinion; they have practiced obscurantism against our people.
To weaken our race they have forced us to use opium and alcohol.
In the field of economics, they have fleeced us to the backbone, impoverished our people and devastated our land.
They have robbed us of our rice fields, our mines, our forests, and our raw materials. They have monopolized the issuing of bank notes and the export trade.
They have invented numerous unjustifiable taxes and reduced our people, especially our peasantry, to a state of extreme poverty.
They have hampered the prospering of our national bourgeoisie; they have mercilessly exploited our workers.
In the autumn of 1940, when the Japanese fascists violated Indochina's territory to establish new bases in their fight against the Allies, the French imperialists went down on their bended knees and handed over our country to them. Thus, from that date, our people were subjected to the double yoke of the French and the Japanese. Their sufferings and miseries increased. The result was that, from the end of last year to the beginning of this year, from Quảng Trị Province to northern Vietnam, more than two million of our fellow citizens died from starvation.
On March 9 , the French troops were disarmed by the Japanese. The French colonialists either fled or surrendered, showing that not only were they incapable of "protecting" us, but that, in the span of five years, they had twice sold our country to the Japanese.
On several occasions before March 9, the Việt Minh League urged the French to ally themselves with it against the Japanese. Instead of agreeing to this proposal, the French colonialists so intensified their terrorist activities against the Việt Minh members that before fleeing they massacred a great number of our political prisoners detained at Yên Bái and Cao Bằng.
Notwithstanding all this, our fellow citizens have always manifested toward the French a tolerant and humane attitude. Even after the Japanese Putsch of March 1945, the Việt Minh League helped many Frenchmen to cross the frontier, rescued some of them from Japanese jails, and protected French lives and property.
From the autumn of 1940, our country had in fact ceased to be a French colony and had become a Japanese possession. After the Japanese had surrendered to the Allies, our whole people rose to regain our national sovereignty and to found the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.
The truth is that we have wrested our independence from the Japanese and not from the French.
The French have fled, the Japanese have capitulated, Emperor Bảo Đại has abdicated. Our people have broken the chains which for nearly a century have fettered them and have won independence for the Fatherland. Our people at the same time have overthrown the monarchic regime that has reigned supreme for dozens of centuries. In its place has been established the present Democratic Republic.
For these reasons, we, the members of the Provisional Government, representing the whole Vietnamese people, declare that from now on we break off all relations of a colonial character with France; we repeal all the international obligation that France has so far subscribed to on behalf of Viet-Nam, and we abolish all the special rights the French have unlawfully acquired in our Fatherland.
The whole Vietnamese people, animated by a common purpose, are determined to fight to the bitter end against any attempt by the French colonialists to reconquer the country.
We are convinced that the Allied nations, which at Tehran and San Francisco have acknowledged the principles of self-determination and equality of nations, will not refuse to acknowledge the independence of Vietnam.
A people who have courageously opposed French domination for more than eighty years, a people who have fought side by side with the Allies against the fascists during these last years, such a people must be free and independent!
For these reasons, we, the members of the Provisional Government of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, solemnly declare to the world that:
Vietnam has the right to be a free and independent country—and in fact it is so already. And thus the entire Vietnamese people are determined to mobilize all their physical and mental strength, to sacrifice their lives and property in order to safeguard their independence and liberty.
- Interview with Carleton Swift, 1981, http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/vietnam-9dc948-interview-with-carleton-swift
- Stuart-Fox, Martin. A History of Laos. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997, http://www.taiwandocuments.org/japansurrender.htm
- Interview with Archimedes L. A. Patti, 1981, http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/vietnam-bf3262-interview-with-archimedes-l-a-patti-1981
- Recording of original proclamation (Vietnamese) and full text (English) – Government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam