Talk:Execution of Nguyễn Văn Lém

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My main question, on having tried to clean up and make more readable this article, is about the name Bay Lop. History knows this man as Nguyen Van Lem, but little is commonly known about him besides his being the leader of a VC hit squad. A Google image search for "Bay Lop" does not return the Adams photo. Just my 2¢. - knoodelhed 06:53, 27 Sep 2004 (UTC)

A search on google reveals the Bay Lop reference as the nom de gurre for Nguyen. Lop was the first name of his wife. One of the most common results for +"Bay Lop" is an AP article from 5/1/00, which states that fact. Other websites also reflect that fact (some of which looks to have existed before the AP article). As for the Adams picture, it's actually the first link on the google search, and is labeled Bay Lop. I don't know much of this particular situation, but based upon the research I just did, I'd be inclined to accept it as "fact". -Vina 19:03, 11 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Good enough for me. Posted a redirect at Bay Lop. - knoodelhed 23:12, 24 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Can't you cite some sources?[edit]

What are the sources for the reports about Nguyen Van Lem's crimes and for his boastfulness afterward? These could easily be the self-serving cover stories of those responsible for his death without trial.

The only source provided to support the claims he murdered, an article in VietCatholic News, civilians is clearly unreliable. Not only is the political bias clear, but the author doesn't appear to be an expert. Escaphist (talk) 07:31, 22 November 2017 (UTC)


This article seems to be biased towards an American/RVN point of view - that the man executed was a murderer and somewhat implies that he "deserved" to be executed in the middle of a street without a trial.--FarQPwnsJoo 10:14, 17 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Bastard got what he deserved. Quit trying to sympathize with the commies. DavidSteinle (talk) 03:36, 11 February 2014 (UTC)


If his widow confirmed that he was in the VietCong, why the weasel word? --Dante Alighieri | Talk 21:18, Apr 22, 2005 (UTC)

I don't consider it a weasel word; he was executed as a suspected war criminal. Nevertheless, a) it's hearsay, b) it applies to the word "guerrilla" as much as "Viet Cong", and c) it's almost certain that the war crimes allegedly committed were wildly exaggerated given the inconsistency among sources. Given the lack of any legal proceeding it's unlikely the truth will ever be fully known. --Dhartung | Talk 21:32, 22 Apr 2005 (UTC)
If you want to say he was suspected of the war crimes, fine... but I think there's a better way of wording it than this. The way it reads now, you might imagine that he was just some guy, not even affiliated with the VC. I'm making a change that should clarify things. --Dante Alighieri | Talk 22:01, Apr 22, 2005 (UTC)
Don't be too hard on me, dude. Look into the history and see how horribly POV this article was before I cleaned it up. I thought the wording I had was a reasonable way of stating the truth, as well as being concise. The wording you've chosen certainly makes for more clarity but is much less readable, in what's a short article to begin with (i.e. you don't read much farther before it's explained).
As far as the "some guy" issue, I'm struck by the fact that there isn't a Nguyen Van Lem Day in Vietnam or a Nguyen Van Lem State Memorial celebrating his killing all those policemen and capitalists. If he were really everything that the ARVN said he was, you'd think that he'd be more celebrated by the Communist government. Certainly, I can't believe 100% the differing and highly melodramatic accounts given even in the reliable sources out there. --Dhartung | Talk 07:44, 23 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Hey, I'm just trying to have an article that's as clear and factually accurate given the information that we have. It seems undisputed that he was a member of the VietCong, so I made sure that it was clear from the intro that this was the case. As for the war crimes and active combat, as you rightly point out, we only have the word of the people who summarily executed him... not the most unbiased sources. Sorry if you felt I was being "hard on you", I don't really have a strong opinion on this or anything. I don't typically hang around the Vietnam War articles looking to start controversy. :) I just happened across this page through some links and thought that the intro sounded weird, that's all. If you think my new intro is too kludgy, by all means edit it. This is a wiki after all. :) --Dante Alighieri | Talk 18:38, Apr 23, 2005 (UTC)
I edited the intro a bit for readability. Also, I referred to him as "Lem" (keeping in line with the rest of the article). Is this appropriate? Is Lem a surname? --Dante Alighieri | Talk 18:45, Apr 23, 2005 (UTC)
It's better now, but I may mull it over a bit. No guarantees. ;-) There's a problem with the names -- both men's last name is Nguyen (a very common Vietnamese name). Lem and Loan are given names. It should be fixed but it's going to be awkward. --Dhartung | Talk 22:40, 23 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Yeah, I figured as much. We had several kids in my school named Nguyen. I suppose we could refer to him as Bay Lop in the article body, having introduced that name in the introduction. --Dante Alighieri | Talk 23:51, Apr 23, 2005 (UTC)

Geneva Conventions[edit]

I decided to correct the point about the Geneva Conventions. It had previously said:

Though Loan's execution of Lem violated the Geneva Convention's norms for treatment of prisoners of war, the execution had been attributed to war crimes committed by Lem.

The Geneva Conventions are a hot subject nowadays. But back then it was decided to treat Viet Cong as POWs only if they were captured in legitimate combat. (Note that the picture shows him in street clothes.) I don't know if Lem should have been given a trial, but it would have been a civilian one and they were likely under martial law at the time. In any case, the Geneva Conventions don't apply.

Here's a reference.

-- Randy 20:21, 4 May 2005 (UTC)

One reason to make the point is to underline why people found it shocking. Legal or not, it violated expectations. Note the debate over battlefield combatants or whatever we're calling them from Afghanistan. There probably were thousands of martial law executions, but they weren't on television in broad daylight. --Dhartung | Talk 01:45, 5 May 2005 (UTC)
Perhaps it's more important that people not find it shocking. If they're unwilling to demand that terrorists respect the actual laws of war then those laws become unworkable. It may very well be that the public's high tolerance for atrocities by the Viet Cong is what led to the current situation. -- Randy 15:55, 5 May 2005 (UTC)
Dude, welcome to Wikipedia. You'll want to read up on Wikipedia:Neutral Point of View, which is official policy around here. I have no problem with you bringing the facts to the table, but if you're going to color them with what should be, you're going to run into a lot of brick walls around here. Also, chill. These editing Talk pages deal with serious matters and lots of attitude gets in the way. --Dhartung | Talk 16:46, 5 May 2005 (UTC)
I didn't want to get sidetracked so I appreciate the thought very much. You should note that I'm not the one who brought up the subject of current events. The edit I made to the topic page (with a reference in this section) was an attempt to correct a misperception while recognizing that the misperception was too common to ignore. Like you said, people did find it shocking. -- Randy 17:20, 5 May 2005 (UTC)
The South Vietnamese and to a lesser extent the American soldiers also committed many atrocities so your claim of atrocities is kind of irrelevant. Also, perhaps you misunderstood the Geneva convention but the Geneva convention does not require the parties involved to actually respect the Geneva convention to be subject to legal rights offered under the Geneva convention. The simple fact is, atrocities by one side does not justify atrocities by the other. If you claim to be civilised and you claim to respect human rights and the Geneva convention then show it. Don't claim you don't have to simply because the other party doesn't. This is childish and just proves you are not civilised and don't respect himan rights or the Geneva convention. You should note there is no clear evidence Nguyen commited any atrocities. Just as there is no evidence many of the people detained as unlawful combatant have committed any acts or terrorism let alone even been combatants of any sort. Indeed there is strong evidence to suggest a number of them were misidentified, perhaps because the people who detained them didn't realise Muhammed is actually a very very common name Nil Einne 06:56, 29 April 2006 (UTC)
The atrocities may or may not be relevant, as it's beside the point. This is not really about human rights either, no matter how much we could argue about which side actually respects them. In this case it's about the Geneva Conventions, and whether or not they legally apply. You haven't shown any reason why they would. Wishing will not make it so.
Your POV is ironic given that one of the complants about Bush is that we're not giving full constitutional rights to terrorists captured elsewhere.
Lem was captured in civilian clothes in a city of South Vietnam. Clearly, South Vietnamese law would have applied. That would include their laws of evidence under (at the time) martial law. Comparing it to western standards under peacetime would be ludicrous. Geneva doesn't do that either. (It demands legal standards equivalent to a country's own military justice system -- not necessarily an Anglocentric one that you seem to be asking for.) But if you want to make such comparisons, I'd suggest looking at North Vietnam.
-- Randy2063 13:50, 29 April 2006 (UTC)
Tell me where does it say on the Geneva Convention on the treatment of POW [1] does it say you have to be in uniform to be treated as a POW? Now, regarding your argument, if he was regarded as an enemy combatant, the Geneva Convention should be applied, I don't see why it shouldn't be. If he was not regarded as an enemy combatant, he should still be treated humanely according to South Vietnamese law at the time. During the war, in both South & North Vietnam there is no law that permit soldiers/policemen to summarily execute a handcuffed man without trial in the way Nguyen Van Lem was executed. Whether he commited war crimes or not is beside the point. Moreover, even if VC did kill all of Loan's deputy family, there is no proof that Nguyen Van Lem was in that group of VC, in fact, Loan only claimed that Nguyen Van Lem was captured near a ditch full of victims' bodies, Loan didn't know if Nguyen Van Lem was the murderer or if he was just happened to be there.--lt2hieu2004 07:10, 30 December 2006 (UTC)
Sorry, I didn't see this one until just now.
GC's Article 4 shows militias and volunteers need to be "having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance."
In this case, the text says:
Terrorists, spies, and saboteurs were excluded from consideration as prisoners of war. Suspected Viet Cong captured under circumstances not warranting their treatment as prisoners of war were handled as civilian defendants.
You can argue that South Vietnamese law accorded the right to a trial, and that that might possibly have remained in force even during an emergency situation like the Tet Offensive, but that's a separate issue having nothing to do with the GCs. Eric Robert Rudolph doesn't qualify for the GCs either.
It would be interesting to find parallel situations during the Civil War, and see how they'd have handled it. I wonder if those troops would even take it up as high as a general.
As for proof that Nguyen Van Lem was in that group of VC, I'd guess that the soldiers who captured him would have served as witnesses. It's a moot point, however, given that we know he was a captain in the Viet Cong.
-- Randy2063 04:25, 14 April 2007 (UTC)
See the Nguyen Ngoc Loan talk page. I replied to you there. As for your so called proof that Nguyen Van Lem was in that group of VC. As you can clearly see from this Wikipedia entry as well as any other well established sources, he was caught in a ditch full of bodies of South Vietnamese civilians and that's the only justification for his murder. Does lying in a ditch full of dead bodies in time of war automatically make you a murderer and justify summary execution?? He was a VC captain, but that doesn't mean he did kill all those people. Especially when who was really the executed prisoner is still debated.--lt2hieu2004 21:10, 21 April 2007 (UTC)

Reference material[edit]

I removed the link to of Nguyen Van Lem's execution because YouTube had already deleted it due to use violation. Perhaps someone can clarify this reference.

Nguyen Van Lem or Le Cong Na[edit]

Thank. 14:44, 15 November 2006 (UTC)
The video, first of all, is not working for me, second of all, we should not use registration-required sites, third, we should not link to copyright infringement. The video is just an illustration of the article, thus not strictly necessary. As for "Lê Công Nà", a Vietnamese speaker will have to translate that. Certainly it returns 0 useful Google results. --Dhartung | Talk 16:02, 15 November 2006 (UTC)

Film The Picture (Tu mot tam anh) is "illustration" ?.

It is "Film Documentary".

Please see it. Thanhk. 04:10, 16 November 2006 (UTC)

I'm sorry, when I used the word "illustration" I meant something closer to "example". In any case, I have tried several times to watch the movie, and I cannot view it using Firefox or Internet Explorer. I always get the Windows Media error "C00D1197: Cannot play the file", which means that Windows Media Player "cannot connect to media". My guess is that I can't see it because the stream is distributed to a limited geographic region. This is another reason that an international encyclopedia like Wikipedia should not include it as a link. Since I cannot watch it, I cannot find out if it is a good source or a bad source, or whether it is biased. --Dhartung | Talk 05:56, 16 November 2006 (UTC)

Using "Internet Explorer" and "Windows Media Player". If you cannot view it, please contact; I'll send email and attch this film for you . Thank. 04:14, 17 November 2006 (UTC)

Why should I do that? If the film is in Vietnamese, how could I evaluate it? Is there further information about this anywhere else? What important information is in the film? --Dhartung | Talk 09:58, 17 November 2006 (UTC)

Citation needed[edit]

Why is this that a citation is needed for this sentence: "However, even if he wasn't regarded as a POW, Loan's action still violated South Vietnamese laws at the time"? It's whoever added this tag who must provide evidence that South Vietnamese laws at the time allow the summary execution of VC prisoners. This is ridiculous, find me any source that say South Vietnamese laws allow their soldiers to kill people without trial whether VC or not. It doesn't matter how hard I tried, searching through all kind of South Vietnamese laws textbook, I couldn't find a single sentence that even go anywhere near as allowing soldiers to kill people without trial. It's common sense, get it? Get your head out of your ass and start thinking reasonably for a change.

Everything must be cited. Deal with it. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:03, 30 March 2010 (UTC)


Why is the trivia section deleted? I don't see any reason why it should be. In fact, it is much more relevant to include his daughter name, especially considering it coincide with his executioner's name and she was born 2 years prior to the event than stuffs like LeMay and UFO, LeMay and Sports Car Racing, Mae West is a slang, etc. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 17:25, 5 January 2007 (UTC).

Fair use rationale for Image:Nguyen.jpg[edit]

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Image:Nguyen.jpg is being used on this article. I notice the image page specifies that the image is being used under fair use but there is no explanation or rationale as to why its use in this Wikipedia article constitutes fair use. In addition to the boilerplate fair use template, you must also write out on the image description page a specific explanation or rationale for why using this image in each article is consistent with fair use.

Please go to the image description page and edit it to include a fair use rationale. Using one of the templates at Wikipedia:Fair use rationale guideline is an easy way to insure that your image is in compliance with Wikipedia policy, but remember that you must complete the template. Do not simply insert a blank template on an image page.

If there is other other fair use media, consider checking that you have specified the fair use rationale on the other images used on this page. Note that any fair use images uploaded after 4 May, 2006, and lacking such an explanation will be deleted one week after they have been uploaded, as described on criteria for speedy deletion. If you have any questions please ask them at the Media copyright questions page. Thank you.BetacommandBot 23:17, 5 June 2007 (UTC)

Richard Lee Nicholson[edit]

Explaining my reverts: Aside from lacking sources, this addition is POV ("an awful picture of war ... one must understand the duress [Loan] was under") and the entire second paragraph is irrelevant to this particular article. Nufy8 19:46, 30 August 2007 (UTC)

Staged media event[edit]

No mention this was a staged media event - that the execution was only carried out then & there because there was a group of journalists & photographers present? Quite significant when considering the footage or image, surely? I don't have a primary source, but it's mentioned at 7:10ish in this video: [2] & there's numerous other secondary sources easy to find on the net. In the unlikely event there are no primary sources, surely it's still worth a mention that there's a lot of conjecture about it? HuwG (talk) 11:19, 25 November 2010 (UTC)

A staged media event? It's far-fetched to think that even the South Vietnamese government could be that tone-deaf. While it's obvious that Loan, under the circumstances, didn't care about cameras being present, such a public relations disaster can hardly be believed to have been staged for public consumption.-- (talk) 21:01, 27 October 2011 (UTC)

Last sentence[edit]

"Though military lawyers have yet to definitively decide whether Loan's action violated the Geneva Conventions for treatment of prisoners of war (Lém had not been wearing a uniform; nor was he, it is alleged, fighting enemy soldiers at the time), where POW status was granted independently of the laws of war; it was limited to Viet Cong seized during military operations."

I'm I just having a thick spell, or is this sentence unclear? It doesn't seem to make any clear sense to me, so I'm not sure how I'd re-write it....

Can anyone improve it so that it's meaning is more evident?

Sorry if I'm being obtuse, I'm not trying to be snarky. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Adkins (talkcontribs) 23:10, 8 September 2013 (UTC)

background summary in intro[edit]

The statement that "The execution was explained at the time as being the consequence of Lém's admitted guerrilla activity and war crimes, and otherwise due to a general "wartime mentality"." is a peculiar and pointless thing to say. Why not say that Lem was summarily executed without trial (which is true). And that the photo of his execution was widely disseminated and used against the South Vietnamese government and American involvement in Vietnam (which is also true).

Geneva Conventions[edit]

I would be very surprised if any real military lawyers have ever said that Lem's summary execution did not violate the Geneva Conventions for treatment of prisoners of war. Of course it did - if he was a prisoner of war. If he was not a POW then the Geneva Convention would not have been violated, but civil law would have been. Summary execution is not legal, it should not be necessary to add.Royalcourtier (talk) 23:07, 27 April 2016 (UTC)

Requested move 29 November 2016[edit]

The following is a closed discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. Editors desiring to contest the closing decision should consider a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the move request was: MOVEDUY Scuti Talk 20:40, 6 December 2016 (UTC)

Nguyễn Văn LémExecution of Nguyễn Văn Lém – The title doesn't reflect the article's subject, Nguyen's execution in Vietnam War. Also, the article weighs more on Nguyen's execution than on the person himself. More is explained at Discussion section. George Ho (talk) 03:55, 29 November 2016 (UTC)


Feel free to state your position on the renaming proposal by beginning a new line in this section with *'''Support''' or *'''Oppose''', then sign your comment with ~~~~. Since polling is not a substitute for discussion, please explain your reasons, taking into account Wikipedia's policy on article titles.
  • Support, no evidence that Nguyen was notable by himself. Daniel Case (talk) 05:27, 29 November 2016 (UTC)


Any additional comments:

More likely the execution is more notable than the person himself. The iconic image of Nguyen's execution during Vietnam War went worldwide via the media. The present title may meet criteria of an article title and may meet WP:Common name per sources. However, the name of the person might violate the spirit of WP:AT. The policy's spirit is naming an article to reflect the significance of the article's subject. The article's subject may not be reflected by the title. Not one of core content policies, like WP:verifiability, can adequately handle this either. The guidelines instead might. WP:BIO1E (not WP:BLP1E) should apply; the person himself is not as notable as his own execution. Also, WP:notability (events) and WP:notability might apply as well. Of course, WP:POLCON says that we can use an appropriate advice page, especially when policies and guidelines conflict, like WP:AT and WP:BIO1E. However, it also says that changes to any rule are recommended. For now, we are deciding on the naming of this article. We can discuss the rules at another time. --George Ho (talk) 04:02, 29 November 2016 (UTC)

Daniel, can you move your vote to Survey section? Or the separation of Survey and Discussion is annoying? George Ho (talk) 05:32, 29 November 2016 (UTC)

No problem. Refactoring now ... Daniel Case (talk) 05:58, 29 November 2016 (UTC)

The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page or in a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.