A French journalist wishes to be a Viet Cong

Source: Pano feed

PANO – In the anti-American resistance war for national salvation, many foreign journalists had come to Vietnam to cover news and write reports on developments in the battlefields. Attentively, many of their press works had greatly impacted on world opinions, contributing to the anti-Vietnam War movement all over the world and to supporting the Vietnamese people’s justice.

Among them is the French woman journalist Michèle Ray of the Le Nouvel Observateur Newspaper (New Observer).

French journalist Michèle Ray

French journalist Michèle Ray

Michèle Ray arrived in Vietnam in early 1966, some months after US troops massively landed in Vietnam. Michèle Ray used to say that apart from her mission as a journalist, she wanted to seek her father who was also a journalist and had gone missing in the Central Highlands of Vietnam during France’s invasion in Vietnam.

Returning to her motherland, Michèle Ray wrote the book, titled “Des deux rives de l’enfer” (The two shores of hell), and a report titled “If I were a Vietnamese, I would have been a Viet Cong”. The book was then translated into English language and released worldwide. It tells her risky trip to both war zones or to librated zones with her own car and of course, she many times narrowly escaped death.

Her report “If I were a Vietnamese, I would have been a Viet Cong” is about revolutionaries, soldiers, guerrillas, civilians and pupils in the liberated areas. Most interestingly, her time being a “prisoner” helped her understand more about Viet Cong.

Michèle Ray recalled that she had decided to write reports on Binh Dinh, one of the fiercest battlefields in Vietnam. Binh Dinh was also the place witnessing one of the five US arrows in the Southern battlefields.

Sai Gon press at that time regarded Binh Dinh a leading province among 44 provinces and cities being the most insecured in South Vietnam because it nurtured the strongest anti-American-puppet troops movement.

Therefore, almost all geographic names and characters in her two above works closely attached to Binh Dinh. One of the alive characters is female journalist Le Thu who had contacted Michèle Ray during her captivity in Binh Dinh.

Le Thu’s home village is in My An, Hoai Thanh commune, Hoai Nhon district, Binh Dinh province and her house used to be a revolutionary base. Joining the Southern urban movement at the age of 14 and since then she used to be detained by the enemy in Binh Dinh, Phu Yen, Khanh Hoa and Binh Thuan provinces. Immediately after being released, Thu resumed her revolutionary activities and was admitted to the Party when she was 18.

French Journalist Michèle Ray on the cover of the book

After the national reunification, Thu studied and worked as a teacher at the Quy Nhon Pedagogy College, lectured at the Nghia Binh Provincial Administration School and worked for Phu Khanh Party Committee’s Commission for Information and Education. However, her karma was to be a journalist. Thus, she worked at the press representative office of Central and Central Highlands for many newspapers in Hanoi. She said that her dream of being a journalist had been nurtured since she was a guerrilla and especially after meeting Michèle Ray.

In December 1966, Thu and some locals were curious to see the newly-arrested American ranger driving a car into the liberated area. The ranger she met was a young girl in mid twenty with an unworried look.The teacher of French language named Tri talked with the detainee, checked her papers and said that Michèle Ray was a French journalist aged 28 and worked for the New Observer.

Michèle Ray was then taken to senior officers while her car was covered by sugarcane in Tai Luong village, Hoai Thanh commune. Teacher Nguyen Duc Nghia, the former headmaster of Quy Nhon Secondary School, was assigned to be the interpreter.

The car was burned down some days later in a big raid of the enemy in Hoai Thanh commune.

Knowing that Michèle Ray was a French journalist with goodwill towards the Vietnamese revolution, the local officials allowed her to work freely in the liberated area.

Though being vindicated, Michèle Ray was a thoughtful girl. She often asked for permission to do something, including taking photograph and filming.

In one of the enemy’s raids, Michèle Ray joined the locals to hide in an underground tunnel in Hoi An village, Hoai Chau commune and she had insisted on getting out when hearing the sound of US troops’ boots above the head, recalled Tran Hoai Thu, a teacher of French language in the liberated area.

“Let me meet the American troops and interview them”, Michèle Ray insisted but no one allowed her to get out.

Reading her report, “If I were a Vietnamese, I would have been a Viet Cong”, many people laugh at her naming. She called the policeman “white teeth” man, the soldier with a carbine the man with weasel eyes (bright eyes) and interpreter Nghia the “rouge” professor.

The more local people understand Michèle Ray, the more they love her. They fed her with local fruits and other delicious dishes. Yet, she did love very simple things like vegetables collected in the forest dipping in a kind of fish sauce, soup with field crab, and boiled sweet potato. She also learnt playing cards with guerrillas and she could even sing the song “Liberating the South” in babble Vietnamese language with the accompaniment of her guitar.

During her time in Hoai Nhon district, Michèle Ray asked guerrillas to provide her simple things like other normal people such as clothing worn by South Vietnamese people, hammock, conical hat, and rubber sandals. She used to propose walking along Truong Son trail to Hanoi. At last she decided to come back to Sai Gon to find another way to the capital of Vietnam.

With the backpack containing her belongings, presented by the locals, Michèle Ray looked like a true guerrilla. Before leaving, she asked the locals for the flag of the National Liberation Front. Having been told that with the flag, she could risk her life, the American journalist pointed into her chest saying that she would hide it in there. Boarding the plane for her home country, she would ask her American colleagues to take it to pass the door.

To date, no one has known her plan a success or not and whether she is keeping the flag.

Translated by Mai Huong

Đăng ký: VietNam News