WASHINGTON — Twelve years after Saigon fell to Communist troops, the families of Vietnamese political prisoners have begun a campaign to convince Americans that the fate of their fathers, husbands and brothers must be resolved before the United States can close the book on a war most Americans want to forget.
"We do not entertain many hopes but, even if we finish our lives without seeing our husbands again, we shall die in peace knowing that we have tried," Khuc Minh Tho, president of the Families of Vietnamese Political Prisoners Assn., said in launching the campaign last week.
Using techniques familiar to the supporters of Soviet Jews, American MIAs (missing in action) and others, the association is basing its campaign on pathos, family solidarity and the support of U.S. political leaders ranging across the ideological spectrum from Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.) to Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.). An underlying theme is the guilt they believe Americans should feel over the fate of soldiers who fought on the same side as the U.S. troops.
Although the association has been active for years, its American supporters say it has not previously sought public attention. Now the organization has decided that it is time to dramatize the issue.